EXFO execs plot course amid management changes

EXFO Inc. (NASDAQ: EXFO, TSX: EXF) Founder, Chairman of the Board and CEO Germain Lamonde will hand that last title to COO Philippe Morin effective April 1. But the transition in management structure won't mean a change in the company's support of the cable MSO space, they asserted in an interview with BTR.

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EXFO Inc. (NASDAQ: EXFO, TSX: EXF) Founder, Chairman of the Board and CEO Germain Lamonde will hand that last title to COO Philippe Morin effective April 1 (see "EXFO Getting a New CEO"). But the transition in management structure won't mean a change in the company's support of the cable MSO space, they asserted in an interview with BTR.

Lamonde said the timing of EXFO's management transition reflects the transitions he sees in the markets the company serves. "I think this is a tremendous time of transformation within the space, with data center construction, data migrations to high speeds like 100G, 200G, 400G… there's a huge amount of transformation," he explained. "And EXFO has really been performing very well in that space. I believe the two of us jointly in our respective roles will just have more strength and more capacity to accelerate [EXFO's success] in the marketplace."

"I think the company is in a really good position now," added Morin, who joined the company last year from Ciena. "I really believe that now is the time to make some decisions around whether [to pursue] organic or inorganic opportunities because the market is so dynamic. There are a lot of opportunities, a lot of new models emerging."

Lamonde and Morin see optical communications and network virtualization as key opportunities for the company. The former area includes data center transformation, which encompasses the roll out of 100 Gbps and eventually higher speeds. The company also is interested in support of wireless backhaul, fiber to the home (FTTH), metro networks, and data center interconnect.

Morin said the company will continue to address the needs of cable operators within the context of these overall trends.

"The thrust towards fiber deep is happening with the MSOs," Morin stated. "DOCSIS 3.1 is going to get deployed, but right behind it I think they're going to try to continue to push fiber deeper into the network. Therefore, we can respond to that with our solutions. They are also looking at the whole aspect of higher speed, 400 Gbps and so on; that's another place where we're actively engaged with them.

"Some of these MSO are also looking at wireless backhaul as a wholesale offer," he continued. "We've made the acquisition of Absolute Analysis for optical RF, and that's helping us strengthen our position. So Comcast, Charter, Rogers up in Canada here – I think they're key, key market segments for us. Same thing with LGI in Europe.

"We have a very deep history with fiber with MSOs. We're both in their core and their access [networks]," added Lamonde. "So that's really a space where I think the EXFO brand that we've built over the years has been very powerful, and our commitment and our engagements with these accounts is very strong, very vibrant. So as much as we're engaged with the Verizons and AT&Ts of the world, so it is with Comcast and so forth."

Lamonde will transition to executive chairman of the company, with a focus on leading EXFO's acquisition strategy among his duties. Lamonde said that he doesn't believe in buying market share. He prefers acquisitions of smaller players that provide synergies with the company's direction as well as serve strategic goals, with the Absolute Analysis deal as an example.

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