Thursday, August 18, 2011

HP to Buy Autonomy for $10 Billion. Open Text is Next!

According to our sources, HP is buying Autonomy for $10 billion with a whopping 75% premium over closing stock price under Leo' laser-like focus on future growth centered around software. Autonomy is one of the two last largest independent Enterprise Search & Content Management players. Next in line for buyout should be Open Text which closed 3% higher today.

Leo would have bought Open Text back at SAP due to thier long-standing OEM relationship in Europe. 10% of OTEX's license sales come from SAP. Interestingly so, during our strategic advisory sessions with executives we long speculated about Autonomy's fit with HP, Oracle, and Microsoft.

The CEO Mike Lynch is rare among U.K. chief executives—one who has created, and still runs, a world-leading software company from scratch. He took Autonomy Corp. from a start-up in Cambridge, England, in 1996 to a company heading for $1 billion in revenue.

Hewlett-Packard Corp. said Thursday it would offer to buy the software company for an indicated value of $10.25 billion.

Autonomy software brings structure and order to the disorganized and disparate. It searches email, instant messages and other forms of data, looking for patterns and allowing enterprises to mine the information for business insight. The dealings of Jérôme Kerviel, rogue trader at Société Générale SA, were tracked using Autonomy's technology.

More conventional uses inside corporations include such seemingly simple— but actually complex—tasks as matching up records of a customer's phone conversations with emails from the same customer. Autonomy has an impressive list of blue-chip customers.

With an eye on the growth in cloud computing, Autonomy in May acquired the digital-archiving operations of Boston-based document-storage company Iron Mountain Inc. for $380 million.

Last month, Autonomy reported an 8.1% rise in second-quarter pretax profit, and forecast increased profit for the fourth quarter and continued improvement next year. The news was a marked improvement for a company that in October issued a profit warning.

"Given the rapidly increasing amounts of unstructured data being created thanks to explosions in digital photographs, videos, music, email, instant messaging and social networking, the need to be able to search different types of data is increasing dramatically," said Tim Daniels, a strategist at Olivetree Securities.

Autonomy's share price has been on a roller coaster for much of its history.

Such market turmoil is nothing new for Mr. Lynch, who has a Cambridge University doctorate in mathematical computing. He was dubbed the U.K.'s Bill Gates during the first dot-com boom and became the U.K.'s first software billionaire, only to see Autonomy's shares lose more than 90% of their value in the subsequent bust.

Mr. Lynch, who was born in Ireland, has had a fractious relationship with the City of London, at one point lashing out at a Deutsche Bank analyst, a former Autonomy employee, who wrote a scathing analysis of the company's management and organization.

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