ERP vendors pick up niche players

Services companies have accounted for the bulk of the mergers and acquisition activity in the technology sector in recent months, and that trend continued in March 2002. Few companies outside of this sector have proved bold enough to start buying again, even at today’s low valuations.

A number of enterprise resource planning (ERP) vendors, however, are still on the look out for niche acquisitions to fill gaps in their product offerings. Intentia scooped up Danish e-procurement company Catalog-International, adding its Ideal Commerce suite to its portfolio of business-to-business software. Catalog, suffering from a costly expansion policy, filed for bankruptcy protection in November 2001. The Swedish enterprise application vendor did not disclose how much it paid for Catalog, but analysts suggest it was minimal.

German software giant SAP hopes to break into the small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME) market with the acquisition of Israeli start-up TopManage Financial Systems. TopManage specialises in ERP applications for SMEs. SAP wasted no time in showcasing its new application package at CeBIT, the high-tech trade show held in Germany. Shortly after, SAP was already trumpeting its customer wins.

Two US-based players in the optical telecommunications equipment sector turned to acquisitions to speed up their European expansion strategies. Test and monitoring technologies group Tektronix acquired Germany’s optical testing specialist Profile Optische Systeme – a key area of growth identified by Tektronix.

Finisar, which develops fibre optic subsystems and network performance test systems, meanwhile, snapped up Munich-based AIFOtec, which develops optical subsystems for the assembly and testing of optical modules, for €2 million. CEO Jerry Rawls explained that “AIFOtec will enable us to produce optical products with higher levels of performance and lower manufacturing costs.” Finisar is hiring 30 of AIFOtec’s employees and is renaming the acquisition Finisar Europe.

Key majority takeovers in February/March 2002
Buyer   What it does   Country   Target   What it does   Country   Price €  
Accenture* IT services US e-peopleserve HR outsourcing UK 80.1m
BEA Systems App infrastructure s/w US Appeal Virtual Machs Java virtual machine s/w Sweden n/a
Belgacom Skynet ISP Belgian E-mail mktg Neth n/a
Devoteam IT services France Siticom Telecoms consultancy France 50.0m
Finisar Gigbit fiber optic sols US AIFOtec Optical telecoms equip Germany 2.0m
Giga Group IT market research US CXP International IT market research France n/a
IMS Health Healthcare sys US Infoplex Durdaut Healthcare analytics Germany n/a
Indras Sistemas IT services Spain Razono Internet consultancy Spain n/a
Integral Trading s/w US IFS Trading s/w Ireland n/a
Intentia Intl ERP Sweden Catalog-International Sales &procurement s/w Denmark n/a
IRIS Group Diversified s/w co UK Freeway Software Payroll software UK 13.0m
MicroGen Info mgmt sols UK OST Business Rules Integration sols for fin svcs UK 31.8m Online marketing svcs Austria MobiusLab Web s/w &svcs Russia n/a
Royal Philips Elec** Tech holding co N/lands Ishoni Networks Silicon &s/w for brdbnd US 28.6m
SAP ERP Germany TopManage Fin Sys Financial s/w for SMEs Israel n/a
SECURITAE Desktop security s/w US Sandbox MS Windows security Germany n/a
Sopra Computer services France Viewlocity (unit of) EAI unit US n/a
STMicroelectronics Semiconductors Switz Tioga Technologies xDSL chipsets US 11.4m
Tc Sistema Systems integration Italy Kerbero Ntwkg &security svcs Italy n/a
Tc Sistema Systems integration Italy Infostation Video comms tech Italy n/a
Tektronix Monitoring tech US Profile Optische Sys Laser &fibre optic tech Germany n/a
Telefonica Data Data services Spain HighwayOne Broadband services Germany n/a
Telrad Tenecs Telecoms equip Israel Congruency VoIP infra s/w US n/a
Thomson Multimedia Media &electronics France Grass Valley Video broadcasting tech US 198.7m
Thomson Multimedia Media &electronics France Still In Motion DVD maker US n/a
TietoEnator IT services Finland Ementor FinSys Financial s/w &svcs Norway 59.0m
Tribal Group IT services UK FD Learning E-learning software UK 12.1m
Valtech IT services France DigitalESP IT services US 4.2m
Westcon Group Ntwk &consulting svcs US TLK Computers Security prod distrib Germany n/a
Data from Infoconomists daily Deal Watch. All currencies converted to euros at current exchange rates.
* acquired BT Group’s 50% stake in this HR outsourcing business
**acquired 51% of the company

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

Related Topics