There was a return to big-ticket acquisitions this month, as valuations fell to levels low enough to entice buyers back into the market.
In the IT services market, the sell-off of KPMG International – the European consulting businesses of accountancy firm KPMG – continued. Paris-listed Atos Origin snapped up the Dutch and UK arms of the consulting practice for EU657 million. The purchase will add annual revenues of around EU600 million, 2,800 employees and customers such as Microsoft and Vodafone.
Meanwhile, KPMG Consulting – the US-listed company which has so far been distinct from European operations – is paying $685 million (EU716.3m) minus net debt for the Swiss, German and Austrian consulting units and their 3,200 employees.
There was further consolidation in this market with GFI Informatique's acquisition of the computer services arm of French engineering and defence group Thales. GFI will pay EU340 million in cash and paper for a business which almost doubles its size with sales of EU485 million in 2001.
There was also renewed M&A activity in the microelectronics industry. German semiconductor maker Infineon bought three of the five microelectronics businesses operated by Swedish telecoms equipment manufacturer Ericsson. The deal, worth EU400 million in Infineon stock, covers Ericsson's mobile phone chip business.
French telecommunications equipment vendor Alcatel snapped up privately held Telera for its voice-web platform. Alcatel paid $136 million (EU146.0m) in stock for the technology, which uses VoiceXML (voice extensible mark-up language) to make web-based information accessible by telephone. Telera still boasts $30 million (EU31.0m) of the $100 million (EU103.1m) it raised in venture capital, which Alcatel says will be used to fund Telera's development.