Mitel CEO Says He Might Up Bid for ShoreTel

Richard McBee tells Bloomberg that some ShoreTel shareholders support Mitel's efforts and that he may consider a hostile offer for the UC company.


Mitel officials reportedly will consider upping the price of its bid for fellow unified communications vendor ShoreTel, whose board of directors late last month rejected an initial $540 million offer, calling it "inadequate" and "opportunistic."

In a report in Bloomberg News, Mitel CEO Richard McBee also said that should ShoreTel executives decline to accept the offer by the Nov. 20 deadline, he also might consider a hostile bid by urging ShoreTel shareholders to force the directors to agree to the bid.

"Our strong preference would be to work with the ShoreTel board of directors and management," McBee told the news site. "We expected to have a dialog and we got nothing. We're definitely interested in talking with their management team about the value."

Mitel under McBee has restructured its product portfolio and has looked to grow its capabilities through acquisitions, the largest being the $392 million purchase of Aastra Technologies last year that essentially doubled the company's size and made it a $1 billion business.

In talking about the ShoreTel offer, Mc Bee has said that the unified communications (UC) market needs to shrink the number of vendors, and that he wants Mitel to be one of the consolidators. In addition, in a letter last month to ShoreTel directors, he said bringing ShoreTel into the fold would improve Mitel's presence in the U.S. market. However, industry observers like Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst for ZK Research, believe that the real prize for Mitel in acquiring ShoreTel would be ShoreTel's planned common UC platform for its on-premises and cloud-based offerings.

In rejecting the $540 million offer, ShoreTel officials noted the company's revenue and income growth as well as the common platform—which will enter the alpha stage in December and launch in April 2015—as examples of ShoreTel's strengths.

Mitel told Bloomberg that the first offer—which he called an "entry bid"—took in account all the assets at ShoreTel and then added more money, and that he would consider raising the price if more value was found. He also noted some ShoreTel shareholders have told him they support Mitel's move, and that he also is looking at other possible acquisition targets.