There's another piece of metro fiber infrastructure that may be on the block out there, at least if yesterday's transaction between Quanta Services and Dycom Industries is any indication. Quanta is selling its telecommunications subsidiaries for $275M in cash to Dycom, which specializes in telecommunications contracting and related services.
The transaction will allow Quanta to 'further focus on [the] electric power & pipeline infrastructure markets'. Note the word 'further' because they still have one segment that has nothing to do with that: the fiber-optic licensing division that the metro fiber industry knows as Sunesys. If Quanta is looking to tighten its focus on the energy business, then its fiber assets and network operations could be next. This last non-energy piece represents about 1.5% of Quanta's revenue, and likely isn't core anymore if they sold the complementary telecommunications contracting and construction business is gone.
While they have some lit services too, Sunesys mostly operates at the dark fiber and conduit level, underlying the infrastructure operated by many other fiber networks. For instance, they have a huge position in Philadelphia and the surrounding region, and most every other competitive operator with a substantial metro footprint there leases heavily from them. They also have a big presence in Pittsburgh, California, New Jersey, Chicago, and Atlanta, as well as some scattered E-rate projects elsewhere.
So if Sunesys is for sale, who might be the buyer? You'd have to say Zayo would be first in line, even though they're surely still busy with their other purchases right now. One big benefit of Zayo's purchase of First Communications is that will bring some of its leased assets in PA under its own banner. I'll give you one guess who else Zayo is leasing a lot from in eastern PA - one of their deepest markets. Additionally, Zayo specializes in taking this sort of geographically disparate but highly focused, primarily dark asset and expanding its scope to attack a wider range of lit opportunities.
But other private equity might step up instead. ABRY's Sidera Networks, for instance, would fit well with the Northeastern and Midwestern assets, and their move southward through Virginia would benefit from an Atlanta presence. Or Quanta might just choose to spin it off as-is, with or without an outside capital infusion (e.g. the Dukenet path) to give it legs while keeping a stake in the division's future.
Other strategic buyers seem less likely. Level 3 hasn't been looking too hard for more US metro fiber at high multiples, XO and Icahn don't play at this level of infrastructure, nor do Windstream or CenturyLink outside their home turf, and tw telecom would surely prefer something less wholesale-oriented.
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