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Holy Crap on My Mom's Shoes - SAP Buys Business Objects

Rumors of Business Objects sale have been going around for years, including a decent one last Monday, although fingering Microsoft as a likely buyer is kind of thick-headed given Microsoft's BI announcements and product lines. That looked more like an attempt at misdirection than anything real.

They're calling this a friendly takeover, although I wonder how many employees will view it that way. With this purchase, the BI market now looks a lot like the ETL market. There's only one large independent vendor in each market - Informatica for ETL and Cognos for BI - and a bunch of mostly smaller companies left.

This is a great thing for SAP since they can now start taking in sales for BI where once it all went to third parties. They also get a decent set of data integration and data quality products to complement SAP's sore applications. It's good for Business Objects too, since this opens up the market for all those SAP accounts.

It's not so great for Business Objects customers long term. SAP isn't known for being a quick, nimble company or for offering reasonably priced products. The stand-alone relationship with SAP may prevent the worst of over-management from a large global corporation from happening. This doesn't mean much for customers over the short term since it shouldn't mean any major changes to existing operations.

This is definitely good news for stockholders since Business Objects said it will report earnings per share of 36 cents to 39 cents, well below projections of 51 cents per share [Reuters Estimates]. They likely would had a drop in share price with an earnings gap that large.

The acquisition is somewhat of a strategy shift for SAP since they have either built their own analytic tools or acquired relatively small companies. The purchase of OutlookSoft was a sign that this could be changing. The Oracle buys of Hyperion and Siebel and the Microsoft BI announcements were putting pressure on SAP since their BI story is comparatively weak.

I'm sure there are going to be lots of interesting questions on the briefing calls Monday morning, and probably a lot of low-content answers. If you feel like listening to the announcements, here's the call in information:
dial in number: +1 480 629-9564 (US), +44 207 190 1596 (UK), +49 695 8999 0701 (Germany). Replay number: +1 303 590-3030 (US), +44 207 154 2833 (UK); Replay passcode: 3792655.

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