Now that Level 3 Communications (NYSE:LVLT, news, filings) and Global Crossing are now one, the focus moves on to the integration in the US and to a lesser extent in Europe. On that subject, the company is quite consciously putting forth a very different public foot this time around.
Gone is the mechanistic itemization of anticipated synergies, and in its place is a promise of a harmonious customer experience. While the synergies are what the markets are looking for, Level 3 is taking the lessons of the last integration very much to heart. What lesson? Synergies show up on the bottom line eventually whether you emphasize them or not, but customers and reputations are not nearly so durable.
You could hear that also in Jim Crowe’s presentation recently at the recent Goldman Sachs conference. Regarding how to track the company’s progress next year, he said to watch whether they maintain (or even expand) growth rates next year, not which synergies hit the books when. Those savings are important, but continued growth is the measure of their success.
And other noises the company has been making also prefer to look toward the new things they can do rather than simply the money they can save. That’s not to say there aren’t going to be substantial layoffs and plenty of other stuff going on as part of the $300M in anticipated synergies. That will inevitably be part of the next 12-18 months and will affect some good folks.
It’s just that I think everyone is utterly sick of treading water. This merger takes both companies to a place where they should have the money to make investments they have had to eschew for a decade, and they’d like to get started today. The one piece of that integration they do like to talk in more detail about is building fiber out to those Global Crossing customers – adding to and investing in the network.
Another bit of harmony Level 3 is putting out there is their new combined interactive network map, something I’ve been watching for. They’re using a Google Maps interface, with detail down to the metro level if you zoom, but not all the way down to the street and building letter. That’s a nice balance I think, and one that Level 3 has taken a while to find.
I find that the bigger the company, the less detail they offer on their actual physical assets. It’s just a matter of maintenance I think, it’s hard to keep the content current when you get too much of it. Level 3’s new public map gives enough to know what they have without having to publicize every building.
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