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By Ben Kolada

If its past is any prediction of its future, hosting services provider InterNap Network Services (INAP) could soon lose its position as the industry’s next takeover target. The Atlanta-based firm, which is set to release its second quarter results, has seen flat sales for the past three years. This is in stark contrast to the hosting industry at large, which has historically grown in the double digits. Meanwhile, other firms are emerging as more desirable targets, pushing InterNap to the back of the buyout line.

Our colleagues at Tier1 Research have written that InterNap was a favored takeover target. However, the firm appears to have since lost its luster. Investors are becoming increasingly frustrated with its poor performance, particularly after first quarter total revenue declined 6% year over year. And shareholders once again fear the worst – in the past month, shares of InterNap have lost more than one-tenth of their value.

As InterNap is lying stagnant, other firms are posting enviable growth rates, making them much more attractive acquisition candidates. We understand that privately held SoftLayer is gearing toward the public markets, though it could certainly be scooped up before filing its paperwork. SoftLayer surpassed InterNap’s revenue last year, and is projecting bottom-line growth of about 20% this year, to just shy of $350m. InterXion (INXN) has been cited as a potential target as well. The company is also enjoying double-digit growth rates, and would provide a large platform for any telco looking to expand its European hosting footprint.

We would note, however, that both InterXion and SoftLayer are considerably pricier properties. While InterNap currently sports a market cap of about $330m, InterXion is valued at nearly $1bn. And we estimate that SoftLayer, on its own, cost GI Partners some $450m. However, when including the other legs of the SoftLayer platform – Everyones Internet and The Planet – the full price to the buyout shop could exceed $600m. But InterXion’s and SoftLayer’s price tags won’t necessarily stand in the way of their sales. We would never have guessed that CenturyLink (CTL) would have been able to afford Savvis, especially so soon after closing its $22bn Qwest purchase.

Source: InterNap's Time as a Takeover Target Could Be Running Out