Avaya COO: Buyout Will Create Stronger VoIP Player


In an interview with CRN on Tuesday, Thurk said that one of the benefits of the $8.2 billion merger agreement with Silver Lake and TPG Capital will be a nimbler yet more aggressive Avaya.

"It provides the company with the opportunity to become very aggressive in the private environment. In the public environment, there are always the pushes and pulls of quarterly performance," Thurk said. "Within the private environment, and with the resources available, I think the company will fare very well," he added.

Avaya solution providers agreed that the vendor could benefit from exiting the public market.

"It will help Avaya be a stronger company without having to report back to the Street," said Neal Stanton, president and CEO of Consultedge, a New York-based solution provider. Consultedge's Avaya business is going strong and is on track for 30 percent growth this year, he said.

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Executives from Avaya, Silver Lake and TPG Capital addressed Avaya employees Tuesday morning, Thurk said. "The overall tone of the message was that we are excited about the partnership and that everyone should go back to work and bring in great third and fourth quarters," he said.

Silver Lake and TPG Capital executives understand and support Avaya's strategy, although the investment firms have not yet begun mapping out post-merger plans, since the deal isn't slated to close until the fall, Thurk said.

Thurk declined to comment on or give details about the acquisition process and other players involved in discussions. Additional information will become public later this summer via a proxy statement, he said.

Reports began surfacing last week that Avaya was entertaining several interested suitors, including the two private equity firms as well as competitors Cisco Systems and Nortel Networks.

The merger pact includes a provision that allows Avaya to continue to solicit third-party offers for the next 50 days. Thurk said he couldn't comment on whether Avaya was in talks with any other potential buyers.

"That provision is very common in deals of this type," he said. "They're put there to make sure the company has explored every possible option for shareholder value."

At this point, Avaya executives don't know what the two equity firms have planned for the vendor's channel strategy, Thurk said. Still, "they do fully understand our channel strategy and [know] that a significant portion of our business goes through the channel," he noted.

Thurk will be hosting several of the vendor's largest business partners at Avaya's Basking Ridge, N.J., headquarters on Wednesday. "I'm sure they'll have lots of questions," he said.

Stanton said some Avaya customers have already expressed concern about the vendor's future.

"Customers are starting to ask what it means, starting to panic a little bit. But it's for no reason. I'm telling them that these two firms see value there," he said.

That's exactly the message Thurk wants Avaya partners to spread.

"The message is that Avaya is viewed by two of the best private equity firms in the world as a terrific asset, and they intend to create as much potential and grow that asset as much as possible," he said.

And the message to channel partners? Turk said it's similar to what Avaya told its employees: "Go back out there and have a great third and fourth quarter."