Business Objects to buy Acta
- By Colleen Frye
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.
Colleen Frye is a freelance writer based in Bridgewater, Mass.