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EMC, IBM lead acquisition spree

EMC Corp., continuing its quest to broaden its software portfolio, agreed to acquire content management software maker Documentum in a stock deal valued at $1.7 billion, one of several deals this week that included IBM's purchase of CrossAccess and Sophos' acquisition of ActiveState.

EMC officials said the move -- which follows earlier deals to buy security, storage and information management systems -- will allow the storage system maker to offer a packaged life-cycle management system for managing unstructured content. This will provide the Hopkinton, Mass.-based firm with more ammunition in its battle against rivals like IBM, Oracle, Sybase and Microsoft.

EMC President and CEO Joseph Tucci said, as he has after earlier acquisitions, that "software is central to our strategy" of supplying what the company calls "information life-cycle management solutions" to corporate IT and business operations. The Documentum deal follows by just three months EMC's acquisition of Legato Systems in a $1.3 billion stock deal.

Dave DeWalt, president and CEO of Documentum, said the combination will allow his operation to boost R&D investments and allow for significant sales and distribution capabilities. EMC officials said that once the acquisition is completed, Documentum will operate as a separate software division out of its current facilities in Pleasanton, Calif. DeWalt will head the unit.

Also this week, IBM signed a definitive agreement to acquire the software assets of Santa Clara, Calif.-based CrossAccess Corp., a longtime maker of mainframe database integration tools. Financial details were not disclosed. The move betokens a general upsurge in interest in bringing mainframe applications up to date.

IBM officials said that following completion of the deal, CrossAccess software assets and personnel will join Big Blue's Data Management Software Group headed by longtime General Manger Janet Perna. The acquired technology will be integrated into the DB2 Information Integrator software, and will be marketed and sold by IBM's sales force.

Finally this week, U.K-based anti-virus software maker Sophos purchased ActiveState. While best known in developer circles for its .NET, Perl, Python and PHP tools, ActiveState is also the maker of anti-spam software, which played a role in Sophos' decision to purchase the company. The cash transaction is said to be worth $23 million.

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