Managed Services Acquisition: Birch Buys AstroTel Assets

Within the managed services market, 2012 is starting with a merger and acquisition feeding frenzy. The latest deal involves Birch Communications buying the operating assets of AstroTel. This is the 14th acquisition for Birch since 2006. Here are details.

Birch, based in Atlanta, Ga., specializes in IP-based telecom and managed services for SMB customers. AstroTel has an IP-based network across Florida's west coast -- including such metropolitan areas as Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Sarasota and Bradenton.

AstroTel marketed itself as "Florida's other phone company," essentially positioning itself against big telecom providers. But I wonder if the company was under some sort of duress, since Birch is acquiring AstroTel's "assets." Financial terms of the Birch-AstroTel deal were not disclosed.

In a prepared statement, Birch said its strategy is to "significantly increase customer density and expand the reach of its state-of-the-art private IP-Network through both "tuck-in" acquisitions and organic growth." Birch also has an agent partner program for T1, broadband and other services.

Admittedly, the Birch-AstroTel deal isn't a traditional MSP merger or acquisition. AstroTel specialized mainly in telecom services -- though the company has been introducing website hosting, email hosting and virtual office phone systems. Similarly, Birch Communications has been pushing beyond traditional telecom services to offer mobile Internet and unified messaging services.

Overall. the M&A activity among MSPs is off to a fast start for 2012. We're tracking all MSP M&A activity here.

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