When Oracle’s lawyers needed to bolster their courtroom argument that the company’s proposed acquisition of PeopleSoft should not be blocked on the grounds that it would reduce competition in the business applications market, they were quick to cite the name of a company that – only a few years back – had been written off as a casualty of those same competitive forces.
SSA, the Chicago-based company that now appends ‘Global Technologies’ to its name to distinguish it from its namesake that went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in mid-2000 and sold its assets and 25% of the new company to Wall Street finance group Gores Technology for $52 million, is not just revived, says the Oracle defence. It has risen to become a powerful competitor by feeding a keen appetite for acquisition.
And as if to underscore Oracle’s point, mid-way through the courtroom drama, on 1 July, SSA obligingly swooped on Marcam, the venerable vendor of process manufacturing software, only two weeks after having slotted new logistics and global trade management technology from start-up Arzoon into its portfolio.
That portfolio is certainly now broad: the latest additions follow the acquisition of supply chain, manufacturing and business applications vendors in the form of Computer Associates’ interBiz division, Baan, Infinium Software, Ironside Technologies, Elevon, ICL Max International and EXE Technologies – a combination that is designed to fulfil the company’s ambition of reaching $1 billion in revenues by the end of calendar 2004.
Its new trophy, Marcam, brings SSA an array of enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications – including software sold under the brand names Protean, Prism and Avantis for order, inventory and schedule management, purchasing, costing and financials – used by more than 1,000 mid-sized and large organisations.
Analysts suggest Marcam complements last year’s purchase of Baan in two ways. Both were bought from struggling UK-headquartered engineering conglomerate, Invensys, and both sell ERP software to the manufacturing industry, which makes up the vast majority of SSA’s customers, with Baan leaning more towards discrete manufacturing and Marcam focusing more on process manufacturing.
Analysts at Meta and AMR say the combination of EXE, Baan and now Arzoon over the last year has indeed put SSA in a strong position to challenge ERP giants with a ‘best-of-breed’ line up.
And now one further event is bringing SSA’s full rehabilitation in sight: The company aims to wipe out its historical debts, plus make further acquisitions, with the $200 million it hopes to raise in a forthcoming initial public offering.