Business Objects gobbles up rival Crystal Decisions

The deal is worth about $820M in cash and stock

The business intelligence software market took a turn toward consolidation late last week with Business Objects SA's announced acquisition of rival Crystal Decisions Inc.

Business Objects announced the deal, worth some $820 million in cash and stock, on Friday. The company said the merger will give it the lead in the business intelligence marketplace and will open up new cross-selling opportunities and wider geographic penetration.

"The two companies are not only successful leaders in their space but have extremely complementary businesses, across many dimensions: product capabilities, distribution channels, international coverage and skill set," Business Objects' chairman and CEO, Bernard Liautaud, said in a statement.

He also said the merged firm will be better able to attract companies looking to standardize on just one business intelligence applications vendor.

Crystal Decisions' flagship product, Crystal Reports, is one of the most widely used report creation products available, and the company has OEM relations with companies such as IBM, SAP AG and Microsoft Corp., which embed the technology in their products. It also has a strong presence in Europe.

Catering to more sophisticated users, Business Objects offers advanced ad hoc query, reporting and analysis tools.

The deal, expected to close in the fourth quarter and subject to customary conditions such as shareholder and regulatory approval, should also result in about $25 million in cost savings next year as a result of synergies, the companies said.

Business Objects, which has dual headquarters in San Jose and Paris, is seen by Gartner Inc. analysts as the business intelligence market bellwether. Palo Alto, Calif.-based Crystal Decisions is also seen as a strong vendor, according to Gartner research notes published earlier this year.

Business Objects on Friday also announced preliminary results for the second quarter, which ended June 30. It expects revenue to be in the range of $127 million to $129 million and earnings per share to be between 17 and 18 cents.

Joris Evers, of the IDG News Service, contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2003 IDG Communications, Inc.

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