Valtech Moves Ahead with $126M Danish Acquisition

PARIS (05/10/2000) - There was a flurry of acquisition activity in the Danish IT market today. French e-business consultancy Valtech SA today announced plans to acquire Danish firm Ahead A/S in a deal worth 140 million euros (US$126 million). This is Valtech's fifth acquisition in the past 12 months.

Meanwhile Swedish Internet consultant Adera AB today bought tiny Danish e-business consultancy Braendpunkt A/S for $2.7 million. With Braendpunkt's 12 employees, Adera will have a staff of 550 worldwide.

The Valtech deal "is really a merger", said Olivier Cavrel, Valtech's vice president of operations in Europe, as after the acquisition, Ahead will represent some 16 percent of the group's value. Valtech will buy Ahead's outstanding shares with 8.8 million new shares of its own, valuing Ahead at 140 million euros, Cavrel said.

Valtech's turnover last year was 28 million euros, and this is expected to grow to 55 million euros this year, excluding the acquisition of Ahead, Cavrel said.

In contrast, Ahead's 1999 turnover was 8.5 million euros, and Cavrel said this is expected this to grow to 22 million euros this year.

The deal marks a change in emphasis for Valtech, which has until now specialized in the development of object-oriented back-end e-business systems.

Concentrating on growth in specific market segments "is something we wanted to do, but to go fast enough, we had to do it through acquisition," Cavrel said.

Valtech will now concentrate on three industry sectors: finance and banking; telecommunications and media; and retail and consumer brands, he said.

While stock markets are favoring business-to-business (B2B) players over those with business-to-consumer (B2C) models, it was important to look at the whole chain, according to Cavrel.

"B2B always finishes up with a need for consumers. We call it B2B2C," he said.

"For us, it's important to put an end to this separation between B2B and B2C."

Last year, Valtech acquired Expede Inc. in the U.S., Axon IT in Sweden and Objekt Share in Germany. So far this year it has also bought Pacer Communication in Sweden and Ootec in Germany, but must now concentrate on integrating Ahead into the group before considering further acquisitions. "We do one at a time," Cavrel said. "We will look again in the third quarter."

The task of integrating the two companies is substantial: with Ahead's 228 staff, Valtech will have over 700 staff in 15 offices worldwide.

Valtech, based in Paris, can be reached at +33-1-41-88-23-00 or found on the Web at http://www.valtech.com/. Ahead, based in Copenhagen, can be reached at +45-32-64-82-00 or on the Web at http://www.ahead.com/. Adera, in Stockholm, can be found on the Web at http//www.aderagroup.com/. Braendpunkt, in Copenhagen, can be reached at http://www.braendpunkt.dk/.

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