from the November 2007 issue

Nokia Siemens buys Atrica

Atrica, will be sold to the telecommunications equipment maker Nokia Siemens Networks. Atrica, develops carrier Ethernet transport solutions for metro systems. It ha been rumord that the sales pricewill will be about $100 million. This is considerably less than the $180 million, invested in Atrica over the years.

Atrica was founded in 1999 by Avinoam Rubinstain, Zvika Bronstein, and Amir Lahat, all ex-3Com. It's aim was to develop solutions using Ethernet protocol on metro systems. Ethernet is considered a cheap protocol in comparison with the main technology used for data transport on metro systems, based on SONET/SDH. Atrica developed communications switches for metro networks based on Ethernet communications standards.

Atrica was the first to break into this field, but the years 2002-2003 were very tough for the telecommunications world, and the company went through a difficult time. What helped Atrica to cope during this period was the huge sums it managed to raise - some $184 million, much of it in the hard years, including a $71 million round at the beginning of 2002. However, when the problematic period ended, Atrica found itself with several large competitors, among them telecommunications equipment giants such as Cisco and Alcatel. In 2005, one of those giants, Juniper, held talks on buying the company at a valuation of $250 million.

Among the investors in Atrica is 3Com, where the founders came from. The list of investors shows the potential the company was thought to have when it began: Vesbridge Partners LLC (formerly St. Paul Venture Capital), GunnAllen Venture Partners, Intel Capital, Innovacom (France Telecom), JK&B Capital, Investor Growth Capital, and Israel's The Challenge Fund Etgar.

Nokia Siemens Networks is a merger of the infrastructure arms of the two giants. The merger took place in 2006, and the merged entity has shed some 9,000 employees. However, in Israel it has extensive activity, based on three companies: Nokia Siemens Networks Israel (formerly Seabridge, Radnet), which develops advanced infrastructure; a company that sells and services Siemens equipment in Israel; and Nokia Israel, which deals in the company's infrastructure. the company's Israeli development center will expand by some 150 people and bring the total to 500.

Reprinted from the Israel High-Tech & Investment Report November 2007

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