Workshop Helps CLECs Survive in Era of Consolidation

In an era of unprecedented consolidation, CLEC executives need to know how to keep their companies afloat or make them attractive to prospective buyers. The workshop Financial & Strategic Actions for Success slated for this afternoon at 3:10 p.m. will do just that teach members how to achieve financial and strategic success in an ever-more uncertain telecommunications environment.

I think some of the CLECs today have a very sustainable standalone business model, said Valerie Ianieri, senior vice president of Buccino & Associates Inc., a firm that helps companies do restructuring and turnaround, and one of the sponsors of todays workshop. Ianieri specializes in telecom and technology, and organized the financial workshop in response to the growing, imminent need for CLECs to get financial insights from experts during a time of mass M&As.

CLECs, Ianieri added, must learn what to do to be full-service providers and compete against the cable companies and Tier 1 carriers. The senior management teams of many of these CLECs are very financially savvy, she noted they just need to know what to do with the money they get from venture capitalists and other investors, she said.

Ianieri said panel members will discuss the factors impacting CLECs businesses today. The main issues are the effects of consolidation, she said. If CLECs want to remain as standalone companies, they need to know how to be healthy and vibrant, she explained. If they want to sell, they must be versed on how to pretty themselves up … so they are an attractive prospect for someone whos looking at acquisition.

James Smith, a lawyer for Davis Wright Tremaine, another of the workshops sponsors, will moderate the session. Smith has worked in telecom through deregulation and implementation of the 1996 Telecommunications Act. I think he [will] add a lot of panache to the panel, said Ianieri. The session itself will be broken down into four parts: bringing in a strategic adviser such as Buccino & Associates, understanding capital markets, identifying M&A strategies, and reviewing a case study. The case study will profile COMPTEL member Broadwing Communications LLC, which successfully used an adviser, investment banker and M&A team to transform its business. The scheduled presenters are Gillis Cashman, vice president of MC Venture Partners; Vik Grover, managing director of investment banking for Merriman, Curhan Ford & Co., which is cosponsoring the panel with Buccino & Associates; Randy Lay, senior vice president of Buccino & Associates; and Scott Widham, president of corporate development for Broadwing Communications.

Grover will talk about the characteristics investment bankers look for in companies. Meanwhile, Lay will speak to the pressures within the telecom industry that would encourage a firm to get outside advisory work done, said Ianieri, and Widham will tie all the information together by discussing what Broadwing did to adapt to market changes.

Afterward, Buccino & Associates and Merriman Curhan Ford & Co. will host a reception so COMPTEL members can ask panelists questions and mingle with colleagues contemplating new financial strategies.

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