Is This the Next Big Telecom Buyout?

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On Monday, shares of Limelight Networks (NAS: LLNW) climbed more than 11% on reports that the company could be acquired in short order. Digital-media analyst (and occasional Fool contributor) Dan Rayburn published a long post saying that "all signs point to" management talking to potential buyers.

I may have had my disagreements with Dan in the past, but his deep industry connections and sharp analytical faculty command nothing but respect. And unlike when he calledNetflix (NAS: NFLX) "overvalued" some 60% ago, Dan's argument rings very true this time.

I can't speak to Rayburn's insider reports that Limelight's largest shareholder, Goldman Sachs (NYS: GS) , is working up a deal, but an exit strategy would probably be welcome these days. Goldman has been sitting on a 27% stake in the company's float since the 2007 IPO -- watching shares lose 80% of their first-day value.

And the time is right for deal-making in this space. While stock charts for Limelight, Akamai Technologies (NAS: AKAM) , and Internap (NAS: INAP) have been scary lately, telecoms have been busy reaching in for acquisitions to build out their cloud-computing and big-bandwidth portfolios. Heck, we saw one yesterdayas Windstream (NYS: WIN) announced a stock-swap acquisition of PAETEC (NAS: PAET) . While PAETEC isn't exactly a content-delivery expert, there's definitely data-centric deal brokering in the air. And with a much smaller price tag, Limelight would be a more likely buyout target than Akamai.

The buyout speculation has cooled off somewhat, and Limelight shares dropped about 6% from Monday's peaks. But the stock is still up by nearly 5% from last Friday's closing price, so I'm not the only one who sees some sense in  Rayburn's discussion.

Where does Limelight go from here? The best way to find out is to enlist the help of our Foolish watchlist service. Just add Limelight to your own watchlist, and then sift through all the fresh news and analysis as it comes in.

At the time this article was published Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares of Netflix, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying both shares and puts in Netflix and formerly recommended Akamai Technologies. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio, follow him on Twitter or Google+, or peruse our Foolish disclosure policy.

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