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West Acquires NASDAQ Webcasting Unit

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West Acquires NASDAQ Webcasting Unit
    

By: -
31 Jan 2018
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West Corp. is doubling down on its commitment to webcasting.

West this week said it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the webcasting business operated by NASDAQ as part of a deal valued at $335 million.

The transaction, expected to be finalized in the second quarter of 2018, will more than double West's revenues from managed webcast services, according to WR estimates, and will substantially expand the company's client roster for digital media services.

West itself was acquired by private equity group Apollo Global Management in October 2017, and it was unclear what changes in West's product mix would result from that transaction. The planned acquisition of the NASDAQ webcasting business is a strong signal that the digital media services arm will continue to operate as a West unit for the foreseeable future.

In addition to acquiring Nasdaq's webcasting business, West also will be gaining control of a range of technology and public relations services operated by NASDAQ. These include GlobeNewswire - a global press release distribution platform, a media monitoring and news curation service, a webhosting service and a curated database of relevant media contacts.

Most importantly, however, the transaction provides a path for West to scale its webcasting business. The NASDAQ webcasting unit is best known as a provider of technical platforms and services used by public companies in making quarterly analyst financial calls and other shareholder events accessible online.

The unit actually has a long history in providing webcasting services for public company financial calls. It launched operations in the late 1990s as a start-up that came to be known as CCBN. Thomson Reuters purchased CCBN in 2004 and managed its operation through its sale to NASDAQ in 2013.

West now tackles a challenge that has flummoxed CCBN / Thomson Reuters / NASDAQ since its inception.  While the company has generated steady, substantial revenues by providing streaming services for public company shareholder calls and events, it has regularly fallen short in its attempts to broaden the scope of its offering to support other business communications applications. The upside for West rests in its ability to sell existing NASDAQ customers on buying West streaming technologies and/ or employing West to manage other webcast events, such as product launches or town-hall employee meetings.

West's risk in this endeavor appears to be minimal, however. As part of the terms of the transaction, NASDAQ has agreed to an exclusive multi-year partnership with West to provide NASDAQ customers continued access to webcasting services to be provided by West. Essentially, West retains its lock on the revenues from providing webcast support for public companies' shareholder calls while it looks for ways to expand its book of business with the NASDAQ customer base.