US powers into Europe

US companies proved to be the biggest buyers of European technology companies during the last month — in an otherwise subdued climate for mergers and acquisitions.

Microsoft sent ripples through the industry when it snapped up Danish enterprise application software vendor Navision. In one of the biggest deals of the year so far, the US software giant paid €1.4 billion for Navision, which generated revenues of €201.1 million in the year 2001. The deal follows Microsoft’s acquisition in 2000 of another supplier of enterprise software applications for small and medium-sized organisations, Great Plains, and will strengthen Microsoft’s presence in the European enterprise applications market.

US disaster recovery specialist SunGard picked up its struggling UK rival Guardian IT in an attempt to boost its European presence. Techmark-listed Guardian IT found itself battling against falling sales and rising debts, and investors were alarmed to learn of apparent accounting discrepancies. SunGard agreed to pay £168 million (€261.1m) in cash, the bulk of which will pay off Guardian IT’s sizeable debt pile.

Xcellenet made inroads into the European mobile technology market with its acquisition of Sweden’s Ehand. The company, whose largest investors were Norwegian telecommunications group Telenor and venture capital firm B-business partners, has developed technology that links handheld devices with corporate business systems. Xcellenet did not disclose how much it was paying to incorporate Ehand’s database synchronisation technology into its mobile management solution. It also gains a research and development centre and a European sales division in the Scandinavian market.

Europe lost a former darling of the markets when London-listed Smartlogik collapsed recently. Its directors agreed to sell the company’s core knowledge management technology and its customer contracts to privately-held decision intelligence group Applied Psychology Research (APR) for up to £2.7 million (€4.2m). Smartlogik (formerly Bright Station), the brainchild of colourful tech entrepreneur Dan Wagner, ran out of money a year after raising £12 million (€19m) from investors. Wagner resigned as chief executive a year ago, but as the largest shareholder has opposed the voluntary liquidation of the Smartlogik business.

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Key majority takeovers in April/May 2002
Buyer   What it does   Country   Target   What it does   Country   Price €  
Altran Technologies IT mgmt &consulting France Arthur D. Little Mgmt consulting US 61.8m
Anite Group IT services UK Micros Surveys Mobile workforce s/w UK 12.8m
Applied Psychology Rsrch Decision intelligence s/w UK Smartlogik Knowledge mgmt s/w UK 4.3m
Business &Decision Bus intelligence s/w France SPSInfoquest BI &CRM s/w UK n/a
CAD IT Tech for financial svcs Italy Bit Groove BI s/w Italy n/a
ConNova Group Cust care &billing s/w Sweden Labs2 S/w &h/w developer Sweden n/a
ECSoft IT services UK CMG Danmark* IT services Denmark 2.0m
Experian Info provider UK MCL Software Credit analysis s/w UK n/a
Fracarro Radioindustrie Data signal processing Italy Philips SMATV unit Satellite antenna bus Neths n/a
Giles Clarke Private investor UK Ascom Telecoms** Network access UK n/a
HiQ International IT mgmt &consultancy Sweden Softplan IT services Finland 13.2m
IDS Scheer S/w &IT services Germany Seco S/w engineer &svcs Germany n/a
Infinity Holdings Consortium n/a PSINet (Europe) US-based ISP US 10.5m
Mensch und Maschine CAD s/w Germany Open Mind Techs Computer aided manuf Germany 9.7m
Microsoft Systems &apps s/w US Navision Enterprise apps Denmark 1.4bn
Mobilehits Mobile portal Sweden Melody I/active Sols Wireless apps dev Sweden n/a
Parity Group IT consultancy UK Sx3 Limited (unit of) IT training UK n/a
Rectifier Corp Semiconductors US TechnoFusion*** Microelectronics Germany 56.5m
SR.Teleperformance CRM outsourcer France BVRP Software Tech help-desk bus France n/a
SunGard IT s/w &svcs for fin ind US Guardian iT Business continuity UK 261.1m
Telecom Italia Telecoms Italy EPIClink Outsourcing svcs Italy 60.2m
Tenovis IT services Germany COM:ON Comm Sys Unified messaging sols Germany n/a
The Fantastic Corp Data broadcasting s/w Switz FirmNET IT consultancy Switzerland n/a
Urmet Telecoms Italy King Products Multimedia terminals Canada n/a
Vogt Electronics Electronics parts maker Germany DeTeWe Telecoms systems Germany n/a
Wanadoo Internet svcs provider France MyWeb ISP Neths n/a
XcelleNet Mobile infrastructure s/w US Ehand Mobile tech Sweden n/a
Compiled in association with Corum. Data from Infoconomist’s Deal Watch All currencies converted to Euros at current exchange rates.
* Danish unit of CMG
**A unit of Swiss systems integrator Ascom
*** A subsidiary of Philips

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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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