Keen to raise its position in the services hierarchy, HP pounced on the UK’s Synstar, offering £163 million in cash, a 28% premium on Synstar’s stock market value.
Most of Synstar’s £223 million revenues during its last financial year came from two sources: a ramped up managed services operation and the company’s traditional – and declining yet profitable – legacy systems maintenance business. HP is also interested in a third, but much smaller, stream – Synstar’s business continuity unit. The majority of the company’s 3,000 employees are in the UK, with around a third spread across subsidiaries in France, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium.
City analysts such as George O’Connor at Arbuthnot had estimated that Synstar revenues would grow 3% in 2004 to £230 million, aided by first-half customer wins that included West Midlands Police, the MoD and the Met Office, as well as an earlier £200 million services contract with Fujitsu.
Pierre Audoin Consultants predicts that the acquisition would bring HP into the top 10 core services rankings in the UK with combined 2003 revenues of £570 million. This edges out BT Syntegra but remains a long way behind EDS and IBM, who lead the £23.2 billion market with around £2 billion of business each a year.
Moving in on the Danish services market, IBM made twin acquisitions: it snapped up Maersk Data, the IT services spin out of AP Moller-Maersk, the €19 billion shipping giant; and, in a related transaction, it swallowed DMdata, the outsourcing joint venture formed by Maersk Data and the Danske Bank in 1997.
Neither IBM nor Maersk were willing to reveal the terms of the Maersk Data deal but independent estimates suggest a value of around €1 billion. While Maersk Data derives the bulk of its business from its home country (and indeed half of its revenues from its parent company) it has established operations in Sweden, the US, India, China and the Asia-Pacific region. The acquisition will add just under 3,000 staff to IBM in Europe and a revenue stream that rose 6% in 2003 to DKK3,478 million (€469.5m), with solid profits of DKK167 million (€22.6m).
DMdata is a slightly smaller catch, with 805 staff. The Danish outsourcer specialising in SAP implementation and network services, boasted strong revenues of DKK1,797 million (€243m) in 2003, up 30%, with profits of DKK96 million (€12m). But the real gain for IBM is a 10-year outsourcing contract to run Danske Bank’s worldwide IT operations that comes with the deal.