Business Objects ‘not stopping’ with Acta buy

4 September 2002 Business Objects, the French business intelligence software tools vendor, is seeking fresh acquisitions – just weeks after signing a deal that company bosses said filled in the final gap in its ‘end-to-end solution’.

Confirmation of an ongoing acquisition strategy will surprise many in the industry, who assumed Business Objects would make do following the acquisition of data integration software vendor Acta Technology in July 2002 – bought for $65 million (€65.8m) in cash.

“With the integration of our two product sets,” said CEO Bernard Liautaud when the Acta deal was announced, “Business Objects will be able to offer our customers a total solution for business intelligence, from data extraction to analytic application delivery and everything in between.”

But John Olsen, Business Objects’ president and chief operating officer, said that the definition of ‘end-to-end’ was always changing and that was why the company was considering a further expansion of its product offering.

“We are always looking for ways to expand either our technological footprint or our market footprint,” he said. “There are a tremendous amount of companies out there that would like to be acquired or even that need to be acquired. There is certainly no shortage of available candidates.”

The company or companies that Business Objects goes on to acquire will have to provide significant synergy with existing products and services and must also blend well with the French company’s culture, he added. Commenting on the Acta deal, Olsen said that Business Objects chiefs felt it would be quicker and cheaper to buy rather than build the integration technology.

The company carried out due diligence on Acta and various other vendors in the extraction, transformation and loading (ETL) software tool market and consulted with industry analysts. It came to the conclusion that Acta’s technology was first-rate, but that the vendor had failed to capitalise because of a shortage of sales and marketing resources.

“Those kinds of companies always make tremendous acquisition candidates,” said Olsen. “They have wonderful raw materials but are handicapped by the lack of success of execution of the company’s strategy.”

Business Objects is Europe’s eighth biggest software company, listed on both America’s Nasdaq and Euronext Paris and boasts revenues of $415.8 million (€422m) for 2001. Its sales have grown for six consecutive quarters – despite having accounting practices regarded by many analysts as among the most conservative in the software industry.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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