More M&A: West acquires Holly Connects


CenturyTel and Qwest, Dialogic and Veraz Networks, and now West and Holly Connects. Is there love in the air when it comes to contact center telecom? Or just something in the water?

Not many people in the U.S. have heard of Boston-based Holly, but the company does enjoy more recognition in the APAC region as an open, standards-based voice platform provider. It tried and struggled to make inroads in the U.S. market but I don’t think it fared well — after all, it’s not easy going up against Avaya/Nortel, Cisco, Genesys, and Microsoft. I have heard previously that the company was looking for buyers, but never thought it would be sold to a company like West, mainly known as a service provider. Looks like West will be able to use its own voice platform for its customers soon instead of partnering with others.

The financial terms were not disclosed in the press release, but I’d venture a guess that West scooped up Holly at a decent price, considering it’s not considered a top-tier voice platform vendor and that the global economy is still stagnant. The good thing is that both companies have an international reach, so the acquisition bodes well for the combined customer base. To me the interesting aspect of this acquisition would be cultural: a Midwestern corporation gobbling up a New Englander. How well will the corporate cultures integrate? The press release also did not mention the roles of the existing Holly executive team when absorbed as part of West Communications Services. Will they remain at the helm or be replaced?

Official press release:

OMAHA, Neb., May 13, 2010 – West Corporation, a leading provider of technology-driven, voice-oriented solutions, today announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Holly Connects, a premier provider of carrier-grade voice platforms.

Holly Connects is headquartered in Boston with offices in London and Sydney, where the company was founded in 2000. Growing and profitable, the company pioneered the use of SIP signaling, VoIP telephony, speech recognition technology and the VoiceXML standard in platform infrastructure for caller self-service. Today’s Holly Voice Platform uniquely provides the high capacity, solid reliability and extensive multitenancy required by the most complex installations. Holly products are deployed by hosting providers, telecommunications carriers and large enterprises worldwide, including West Interactive.

“Working with Holly Connects for several years, we have been extremely impressed by the performance of their products and dedication of their staff,” said Pam Mortenson, President of West Interactive. “We view this acquisition as a superb opportunity to complement our current product and services portfolio, allowing West to address a broader market.”

Holly will become part of West’s Communications Services segment and will continue to sell its products and services to hosting providers, telecommunications and enterprise clients. West expects closing to occur in the second quarter of 2010 and does not expect results from Holly to have a material impact to its 2010 financial results.

“Many of our hosting clients and prospects have expressed an interest in having West Interactive manage additional, on-premise call traffic and applications to complement our hosting offering,” said Steve Stangl, President of West’s Communications Services operating segment. “Offering them the same Holly Voice Platform software used in our hosted services permits a seamless blending of operations and a natural extension of our professional services.”

“Holly Connects values customer service as the essential element in our corporate culture,” said Lance Berks, CEO of Holly Connects. “We are pleased to be joining an organization that shares our commitment to client and staff satisfaction, and that can provide the resources needed to accelerate our strategy for growth in North America.”

About West Corporation
West Corporation is a leading provider of technology-driven, voice-oriented solutions. West offers its clients a broad range of communications and infrastructure management solutions that help them manage or support critical communications. West’s customer contact solutions and conferencing services are designed to improve its clients’ cost structure and provide reliable, high-quality services. West also provides mission-critical services, such as public safety and emergency communications. Founded in 1986 and headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, West serves Fortune 1000 companies and other clients in a variety of industries, including telecommunications, banking, retail, financial, technology and healthcare. West has sales and operations in the United States, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Latin America. For more information on West Corporation, please call 1-800-841-9000 or visit http://www.west.com.

About Holly Connects
Holly Connects is the fresh voice in voice platforms, delivering software for powerful yet cost-effective call handling to telecommunications carriers, hosted service providers, and large enterprises worldwide. Holly’s award-winning products provide a reliable foundation for delivering exceptional customer service by telephone. For more information please visit http://www.holly-connects.com.

Forward-Looking Statements
This press release contains forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements can be identified by the use of words such as “may,” “should,” “expects,” “plans,” “anticipates,” “believes,” “estimates,” “predicts,” “intends,” “continue” or similar terminology. These statements reflect only West’s current expectations and are not guarantees of future performance or results. These statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in the forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, the effects of global economic trends on the businesses of West’s clients; competition in West’s highly competitive industries; West’s ability to keep pace with its clients’ needs for rapid technological change and systems availability; the loss, financial difficulties or bankruptcy of any key clients; the non-exclusive nature of West’s client contracts and the absence of revenue commitments; increases in the cost of voice and data services or significant interruptions in these services; the cost of pending and future litigation; extensive regulation affecting many of West’s businesses; security and privacy breaches of the systems West uses to protect personal data; West’s ability to protect its proprietary information or technology; the cost of defending West against intellectual property infringement claims; service interruptions to West’s data and operation centers; West’s ability to retain key personnel and attract a sufficient number of qualified employees; increases in labor costs and turnover rates; the political, economic and other conditions in the countries where West operates; and West’s ability to complete future acquisitions and integrate or achieve the objectives of its recent and future acquisitions. West is also subject to other risk factors described in documents filed by the company with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.

These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date on which the statements were made. West undertakes no obligation to update or revise publicly any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except to the extent required by applicable law.

West Corporation
11808 Miracle Hills Drive
Omaha, NE 68154

Media Contact:
Mack McKenzie
402-963-1324

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