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Friday, October 12, 2007 by MWD Editor
Oracle today confirmed
that it delivered a letter to the Board of Directors of BEA Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: BEAS) on October 9 in which Oracle proposes to acquire BEA for $17.00 per share in cash. The $17.00 per share offer is a 25% premium over yesterday’s closing price of $13.62.
This acquisition has been long-discussed so I can’t say I find the news particularly surprising, particularly with Carl Icahn recently upping his stake in the company. I think this just makes it more likely that Oracle’s proposal will be accepted.
This is primarily as a market share grab by Oracle. It does plug some gaps in the portfolio – particularly around business process management (based on BEA’s Fuego acquisition), where Oracle only has basic BPEL web services orchestration; adds some telecoms vertical market capabilities to complement Oracle’s vertical market push and the virtualisation work that BEA has done with the WebLogic Virtual Server Edition. Also, there’s the opportunity for Oracle to tap into the healthy Tuxedo base. With a significant chunk of Oracle’s profitability coming from maintenance, the revenue from BEA’s customer base will suit its business far better than it did BEA which was suffering with its inability to grow license revenues.
This is yet another example of the bigger specialist players getting squeezed out by the industry goliaths – IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP – and the open source, smaller best-of-breed players. SAP’s recent acquisition of Business Objects is another example (although that did plug a few more gaps). It leaves some of the other bigger specialist players – TIBCO, SoftwareAG (and to a lesser extent Progress and Red Hat) in an interesting position. On the one hand they will be more attractive, particularly for SOA and BPM, to customers looking for an application-independent infrastructure offering. On the other, though, taking market share for those customers from BEA is one thing: taking it from Oracle quite another. Ultimately, IBM is the big beneficiary in this regard.
In summary, then, I see: the acquisition going ahead; BEA’s customers looking worried as they see themselves with an application-dependent infrastructure stack; IBM looking happy at the prospect of providing those customers with an application-independent alternative; the likes of TIBCO and Software AG pondering their options; and SAP and Microsoft carrying on in there own sweet way.