When I was a kid, there were three breakfast foods I particularly loved when, on the rare occasion, I was able to avoid mom’s usual well-rounded breakfast. These were chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and Toastettes, all served with a giant glass of milk. For those of you who have never eaten Toastettes, they were similar to a Pop Tart but much better. They had a thinner, less doughy crust, lightly sprinkled with sugar, that turned a wonderful golden brown in just a couple of minutes in the toaster. I can still remember the delicate crunch of the edges contrasted with a comfortingly warm and chewy center.
I am not alone, am I?
Today I still eat PB&Js for breakfast on occasion, but have no way of getting my Toastettes back. I’ve described them to my daughter but can’t share one with her. It’s not like I haven’t tried. From what I can tell, Nabisco stopped making these in 2002. When I contacted the company sometime shortly thereafter to ask why, they told me it was part of brand consolidation due to the merger with Kraft. It is disappointing to see a favorite product disappear no matter the reason, but especially due to a merger. In any case, every once and a while I find myself in the aisle of a grocery store scanning the shelves where the toaster pastries reside hoping to see my Toastettes make a reappearance. Unfortunately, I haven’t heard anything about a big Toastettes comeback, nor I have had a response from Nabisco. But the other day I decided to Google Toastettes to see if anyone else missed the warm and crunchy magic, and I found I am not alone! Here’s what others have to say about this product:
Here’s what the box looked like and there is a picture of a Toastette on the front:
So what does this have to do with telecom?
Given that the merger with RJR/Kraft may have been a contributing factor to my beloved Toastettes going away, I wanted to step back and think about the true impact of all of the mergers going on telecom. Will it help or hurt the consumer? Will we end up with more and better choices or will some great products, teams and technologies go away? As many of you who know me and read the BLOG are aware, I’ve been thinking that these mergers would happen for years, and am actually surprised some of these companies are just getting around to finding a strategic fit. While most acquirers could have gotten better deals a couple of years ago on the acquisitions they are now attempting, they do have one thing going for them; the ability to obtain cheap money through the bond markets.
Who has made some of the best deals so far?
In no particular order, let’s take a looks at a few of these tie ups:
Level3 acquiring Global Crossing – Wow!!! This was a shocker. I kept thinking Global Crossing should have been taken off the board a couple of years ago. It made sense for a major CLEC or IXC that lacked an international footprint to pull the trigger on a deal like this. I was just surprised that Level3 was the one to acquire it, and that they could pull it off with the debt load they were already carrying. Several people have said that Level3 paid too much, but so far the market likes the deal, with Level3 stocks appreciating quite a bit from where the stock trading was before the deal was announced.
CenturyLink acquiring Savvis – After just recently completing the acquisition of Qwest, CenturyLink sent a major message to everyone in the industry that they intend to be a player. Many people I have talked with over the past year have questioned what CenturyLink would do with Qwest Business and whether or not they had a vision of how to compete in the business segment. I think this acquisition tells you how committed CenturyLink is to building value and revenue in their business segment. Hands down, Savvis was one of the best plays in this space left on the board.
AT&T acquiring T-Mobile – This acquisition probably has the biggest question mark next to it due to the regulatory issues facing the companies and a vehement opponent to the transaction in Sprint. It seems the crowd believes there is already very limited competition in the wireless space along with major barriers to entry, so there are quite a few people rooting against this. That said, the merger makes a ton of sense on paper for both companies as their size and scale should make it easier for them reduce costs, improve their network and to roll out LTE much more quickly. If this does go through, I am interested in finding out the terms and conditions of what the newly combined company might have to give up in order to get the deal to go through. While Sprint is protesting the loudest, I think the biggest long-term loser would be Verizon as it would make AT&T a much tougher competitor on almost every facet of the business.
I will monitor these mergers and comment on some of the others in an upcoming blog, in the meantime does anyone have any connections at Nabisco? I am craving a Toastette.