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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