Business Objects to buy Acta

Business Objects has agreed to acquire data integration specialist Acta Technology as part of an effort to evolve from a business intelligence (BI) tools provider to an enterprise analytic platform player.

In a $65 million cash transaction, Business Objects will gain access to Acta's extraction, transformation and loading (ETL) solution, called ActaWorks, as well as Acta's collection of packaged data marts. Business Objects' CEO Bernard Liautaud, in a conference call, contended that there is no overlap between the two firms' product sets, and when the products are integrated, Business Objects will be able to offer its customers ''a comprehensive enterprise analytic platform.'' Liautaud said Business Objects will continue to support integration with other ETL products.

The acquisition of privately held Acta, which was founded in 1996 and had approximately $25 million in revenue in 2001, not only fills the ETL gap for Business Objects but also provides the company with potential access to the segment of the SAP customer base that SAP hasn't penetrated with its own BI and data warehousing offering, said Henry Morris, vice president of Applications and Information Access, International Data Corp. (IDC). ''What got Acta on the road map was not just ETL but the fact that their ETL [technology] paid attention to getting data out of complex applications, notably SAP. That's a value for Business Objects as they try to become a platform vendor. The acquisition also shows that Acta couldn't make a go of this themselves; it's pretty difficult now for any stand-alone ETL company; they either have to start building a platform business or an applications business.''

While the business intelligence tools (BIT) market experienced a slowdown in 2000 and 2001, IDC expects revenues to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 27%, from $3.6 billion in 2000 to $11.9 billion in 2005, with the end-user query and reporting and online analytical processing (OLAP) segments growing the fastest. Publicly held Business Objects reported $415.8 million in revenue for 2001, an increase of 19% over 2000, and net income of $44.9 million. The company continues to be profitable in 2002, reporting revenue of $107.5 million and net income of $11.0 million for the first quarter ending March 31, 2002. Liautaud said Business Objects will retain ''key members'' of Acta's engineering, sales, service and marketing staff, including co-founder and CTO Sachin Chawla and VP of Engineering Chuck Altomare.

About the Author

Colleen Frye is a freelance writer based in Bridgewater, Mass.


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