Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Tuesday morning drive-by

Still trying to recover from eComm last week in Amsterdam, and get caught up on other things. I would love to do a lengthy post on eComm, but I don't have the time, unfortunately. Stated simply, I think it is the finest event of its type on the planet. Lots of short and punchy presentations, many of them challenging and provocative, covering a wide range of aspects around communications (note my omission of the prefix "tele"), with a low tolerance level for bullshit, and good representation from people who are actually doing innovative things. Not many carriers were present (I counted four), but then why would carriers be interested in new developments in communications? And no IMS, HADOPI, or any other toxic and delusional acronym-based strategies were to be found - heaven! I gave a 15-minute talk on day one, and moderated a panel on day two. Wish I could have stayed for day three, which sounds like it was very interesting indeed. Take my advice - bookmark the next event and just go. You won't regret it.

Speaking of interesting events - tomorrow I'll be moderating a panel at Telco 2.0 in London, which has apparently seen a huge level of interest and registrations. I'm looking forward to the event and the Thames River cruise which follows. Hope to see you there!

I've come to the conclusion that my "social media brand" strategy is inevitably doomed to be one of fragmentation. Sometimes I have something to say or point to which is suitable for this blog, but which I just don't have time to write a proper blog post on. If you're interested in capturing any of that stuff, you may wish to follow me on Twitter. I know it is probably over-hyped as a medium, but it is imminently suitable to certain types of expression, such as "31bn? That's 3x BT's market cap, or one national FTTH network. What's that burning smell?" Alternatively, you may just wish to friend me - I already consider my mega-uber value readers to be friends I haven't met, so why don't we formalize things?

So, on to the industry/market:

Data centers - You have to love data centers, well I do anyway. The unsung heroes of the web services revolution, they work away in quiet anonymity and throw off disgusting amounts of cash if run properly - and we don't have nearly enough of them. We tried like hell to get a Greater London project funded while at Merrill Lynch, but timing and the parlous state of the firm's balance sheet thwarted us, sadly. Judging from Telecity's statement from yesterday, our investment case still stands.

Ride that high yield bubble - Virgin Media, which is a company I have a lot of time for, despite my frequent mocking posts about open street cabinets, continues to demonstrate that continuity issues in the CFO's office need not be an impediment to sound financial management. Following last week's acceptance of its senior facilities amendment, the company is wasting no time in lining up refinancing options for the lower parts of the capital structure, which is exactly what it should be doing given the opportunity which the market's thirst for yield has created. What looked to be a very steep mountain to climb at the start of the year, has been handled masterfully in my view, and the second lien debt, which is something we loved at the beginning of the year at 50, is now quoted 93.5. I don't often think of congratulating company treasurers, but here's to a job well done.

Greek consolidation - This is a topic we did an awful lot of work on at Merrill Lynch, and the ongoing WIND Hellas saga has been very much on our mind since the beginning of the year. Now a "wild card" bid has reportedly emerged from what most would regard as an unlikely source. However, I have previously worked closely with some of the people involved behind the scenes here, so I, for one, am not surprised, and I think things are going to get very interesting from here.

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