After a brief but intense tug-of-war with rival SAP, Oracle succeeded in landing retail software maker Retek. The acquisition helps to flesh out Oracle’s capabilities in supply chain management but it came at a hefty price. SAP’s initial ‘agreed’ bid of $496 million was already a 42% premium on Retek’s stock market value, while Oracle’s final payment of $631 million underscored just how aggressive it intends to be in blocking SAP’s stated goal of controlling of 50% of the US enterprise applications market by the end of 2005.
Before the ink had dried on the Retek cheque Oracle had completed another buy-out. Oblix specialises in identity management software for providing users with authenticated, single sign-on access to applications – increasingly important in a service-oriented architecture. As such, the Oblix technology will be key in Oracle’s effort to fuse together some of the applications functionality it has amassed over the past six months, namely PeopleSoft, JD Edwards and now Retek.
Also recognising the pivotal role of identity management, systems and data management software company BMC paid $18 million for OpenNetwork, a specialist in identity federation services for web-enabled applications.
However, the real headline grabber in March was SunGard. The $11.3 billion buy-out of the provider of IT services to the financial services sector was remarkable in ways other than the hefty price. Of particular note was the fact that the deal was put together by an unusually large consortium of seven private equity investment firms, including Silver Lake Partners, Bain Capital and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners.
In targeting underperforming or undervalued companies, such levels of investment are beginning to have a major impact on the technology landscape. Private investors typically demand much greater financial returns from their companies, which can put pressure on R&D and result in previously unthinkable alliances.