Business Objects to buy financial software vendor

Business Objects has agreed to buy Cartesis, a maker of finance and performance management software, for Euro 225 million in cash

Business Objects has agreed to buy Cartesis, a maker of finance and performance management software, for Euro 225 million in cash, or about US$300 million (AUD$360 million), the companies announced Monday.

Financial managers at large companies use Cartesis' products to forecast costs and spending, consolidate figures from subsidiaries and generate financial reports.

Business Objects, which is known for business-intelligence software, made the acquisition to expand its performance management software business, which it began to build about two years ago with its acquisition of SRC Software.

Business Objects has products for profit management and financial planning, but lacks tools for consolidating data and preparing financial reports. It will gain those from Cartesis, which will be the "crowning component" in its performance management portfolio, John Schwarz, CEO of Business Objects, said in a conference call Monday morning.

The announcement comes a few days after Oracle closed its acquisition of Hyperion Solutions, a rival to both Cartesis and Business Objects, for US$3.3 billion. Other Cartesis vendors include Cognos, Applix and Extensity.

Business Objects hopes to distinguish itself by offering a full suite of products, from tools that integrate and analyze business data up to the applications for managing company performance.

Business Objects will continue to invest in Cartesis' products and support its customers, according to Schwarz, although there will be some overlap in some areas, such as profit management, and the company will "reconcile and integrate" the product lines, he said.

The companies' both have planning applications as well, but they are aimed different audiences, according to Schwarz, with Business Objects' geared toward departmental users and Cartesis' for CFOs. "We will keep both but they need to be integrated," he said.

Companies that buy performance management software tend to spend three to four dollars on services for every dollar on software, Schwarz, said. Cartesis was no exception, generating as much as 45 percent of its revenue from services, said Didier Benchimol, Cartesis' CEO.

Business Objects will continue to provide some high-end services for the products but will try to bring partners increasingly into the picture, as it does with its business-intelligence products. Business Objects gets only about 16 percent of its revenue from services, and it will remain less that 20 percent with Cartesis, Schwarz said.

Cartesis is privately held and has about 600 employees and 1,300 customers, including Citizens Banking, Nissan Motor Co. and Siemens. It is based in Paris and took in about Euro 100 million in revenue over the last year.

The company moved into North America about 18 months ago and has signed a few large customers, including PepsiAmericas and Cargill Inc. The region still accounts for only 13 percent of its business but has been growing quickly, Benchimol said.

Business Objects expects to close the transaction in about 90 days, subject to the approval of regulators and Cartesis shareholders, it said.

Benchimol will join Business Objects to help integrate Cartesis into Business Objects' Enterprise Performance Management group, the companies said.

Business Objects is due to announce its financial results for the first quarter on Wednesday.

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