Keysight outbids rival Viavi to buy UK’s Spirent for $1.5 billion

(Reuters) -Keysight Technologies outbid rival Viavi Solutions to buy Spirent Communications for about 1.16 billion pounds ($1.46 billion) on Thursday, winning a battle over the UK telecoms testing firm’s expertise in automation.

Shares in London-listed Spirent were up 10.6% to 198.0 pence as of 0957 GMT. Electronic equipment maker Keysight offered 201.5 pence per share, topping Viavi’s 175 pence bid in early March.

Spirent possesses capabilities in software, cloud, and automation technologies as next-generation communication networks including 6G become increasingly software-based, driven by advances in areas such as artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Spirent, which had earlier agreed to a deal with Viavi, withdrew its support as it was 15% lower than the Keysight offer.

“Following my discussions with the Keysight management team, I am excited about the broader reach and expanded long-term prospects for Spirent arising from the combination with Keysight,” Spirent CEO Eric Updyke said.

Keysight’s offer represents a premium of 85.9% to Spirent’s closing price of 108.4 pence on March 4, higher than Viavi’s 61.4% premium.

Viavi said on Friday that its offer for Spirent represented “certain value” and added that Keysight’s acquisition would further “entrench” its position in many product segments and lead to customer choices being limited.

In early March, Viavi had agreed to buy Spirent for about 1.01 billion pounds.

Spirent has more than 1,500 employees, and serves about 1,100 customers in over 50 countries. Keysight’s deal would lead to headcount reductions of less than 5% across the combined group, it said in a statement.

Deal activity has picked up this year, with several UK companies becoming the target of takeovers from more than one interested buyer. This includes UK packaging giant DS Smith, logistics firm Wincanton and electricals retailer Currys.

($1 = 0.7922 pounds)

(Reporting by Prerna Bedi and Yadarisa Shabong in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Rishabh Jaiswal; Editing by Janane Venkatraman, Jason Neely and Mrigank Dhaniwala)

Close Bitnami banner