Permira buys telecoms firm in $1.5bn deal

PRIVATE equity house Permira sparked hopes of a gradual recovery in buyouts yesterday as it agreed to pay $1.5bn (£950m) for the call centre software business of Alcatel-Lucent.

Permira clinched the cash deal for Genesys, at the top end of expectations, after six months of talks between Alcatel-Lucent and possible bidders.

Hewlett-Packard, Cisco and Siemens Enterprise Communications had been among the leading candidates, despite Alcatel-Lucent’s net debt hitting €376m at the end of June.

Shares in the Franco-American telecom equipment-maker have halved since May, even as it nears the end of a three-year turnaround plan after making a series of annual losses.

Genesys sells software for the operation of call centres and video conferencing and turns over around $500m. The deal is expected to complete late this year or early in 2012.

Brian Ruder, partner at Permira, said: “Genesys is widely recognised as one of the world’s leading providers of customer service software and contact centre solutions, and we are excited by the long-term growth potential of this business.”

Yesterday sources said Permira had looked at Alcatel-Lucent’s entire Enterprise business, which has 5,000 staff globally, but chose to buy Genesys because it is seen as having resilient growth prospects in a “difficult macro-economic environment”.

City A.M. understands Permira will consider exploiting what it sees as a fragmented market to make bolt-on acquisitions to Genesys.

The private equity house was formerly run by Damon Buffini, who became one of the stars of the buyout boom. He later took the chairman’s role before stepping down last year. He remains a partner.