How does Belden plan to leverage the Snell Advanced Media acquisition?
By Vinita Bhatia
On 8th February, the broadcasting world woke to news that Belden has completed its acquisition of Snell Advanced Media (SAM), and that the entity would soon merge with Grass Valley. This was not entirely unexpected as many in the industry were already speculating that Belden, which has a history of acquiring companies, had been in advanced talks with UK-headquartered SAM for a while.
What people in the business, instead wanted to know was about the change in guard in these companies, and that became clear soon. It was announced that Tim Shoulders would continue to lead Grass Valley, while Eric Cooney, who was appointed president and CEO of SAM in June 2017, would be part of the integration team. For those who came in late, it was only in January 2018 that Shoulders replaced Marco Lopez, who incidentally had been a member of the Belden’s management team since 2011.
The entire industry has been waiting for the more details about the acquisition but not much has been forthcoming. Many decided to wait till the 2018 NAB Show to get a clearer picture, but not us.
At Digital Studio, we decided the only way to put the speculations to rest was by asking the people at Belden and SAM, which is exactly what we did. Here we present what they have to say.
Belden Inc’s officials said that post he acquisition of SAM, the plan is for Belden to combine the SAM and Grass Valley operations and go to market under the Grass Valley brand. They added that they would continue to be headquartered in Montreal, Canada, under the leadership of Grass Valley’s President, Shoulders, like we mentioned above. Additionally, as has been vastly mentioned in the media, the SAM brand will be retired. However, they revealed that many product brands used by SAM and its predecessors through the years will be retained.
“We are excited about the advantages this transaction enables us to offer our customers, who continue to deal with a rapidly changing broadcast landscape that includes almost constantly evolving viewer and advertiser behaviour, changing business models and enormous unprecedented competition. To stay competitive, they require support from their suppliers to help increase their efficiency and effectiveness. They need to reach new audiences, across different media, with more dynamic content,” Dave Cohen, VP of marketing, Grass Valley stated. He added that this announcement improves their overall offering to provide customers with the most comprehensive, innovative selection of products and services, with assured interoperability, and extend their ability to offer in-region support to the global broadcast community.
Timothy Shoulders, president, Grass Valley, a Belden Brand stated, “With this investment, Belden again demonstrates our commitment to the broadcast industry. Adding SAM’s employees and products to the Grass Valley family extends its global reach, makes us more agile and provides even more domain expertise to enhance Grass Valley’s industry-leading solutions in networking, news and live production and content delivery for broadcasters. Our customers face competition and uncertainty like never before. This transaction will help them navigate the technology options available to them with fewer concerns around interoperability and deployment complexity while providing them greater access to the innovators developing the solutions of tomorrow.”
Eric Cooney, former president and CEO, SAM added, “The team at SAM has worked hard over the past several years to deliver world-class products that have met or exceeded the needs of our target customers. We are energised by their loyalty and we thank our customers for helping us get here. We believe that by becoming part of the Grass Valley family within Belden, we can offer our customers an even greater opportunity to continue growing with us. The collection of talent and technological muscle customers now have at their disposal is unequaled. And, with the backing of Belden, our company has the stability and resources that this industry demands to continue innovating and meet the competition head on.”
Belden does not intend to broadly communicate the closing of this transaction until it is in a better position to provide useful information to its employees and customers. It anticipates executing an aggressive external communications effort at 2018 NAB Show where the combined company’s product roadmap will be exhibited on a single stand.
Needless to say, the announcement of this acquisition has set the industry a-twitter, since both companies are major players in the broadcasting and content management space. While SAM supplies products and solutions for live production, post-production, asset management, playout, infrastructure and image processing, Grass Valley has an array of products that range from cameras, servers, control systems and graphics processors. However, it is interesting to note that there is significant overlap of some product SKUs between the two companies, so customers, channels partners and competitors would like to see which products—for instance the production switchers, automated playout kit or replay servers—Belden will retain and which will be phased out.
Additionally, it will be important to see that given the impressive portfolio that Belden currently has, how it will manage this vast and varied product range, as it pushes its agenda of interoperability forward.