SAS buys ABC to bolster software line

SAS Institute Wednesday announced the acquisition of ABC Technologies, a vendor of financial management software for businesses. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The two firms develop business-intelligence software, tools for businesses to analyze their data, such as yearly expenditures and the cost of revenue, and improve their decision-making processes. SAS coveted ABC's activity-based financial management software, which it had become familiar with during an 18-month partnership between the two companies to develop an XML (Extensible Markup Language)-based standard for scorecarding applications, the companies said in a statement.

"This fits into our strategic acquisition strategy, in which we selectively identify companies with technology that will add to the breadth of our products, and allow us to get (those technologies) to market quicker," said Stephanie Kuhnel, senior director of mergers and acquisitions strategy for SAS.

Activity-based software measures "not just what was being spent, but what (those expenses were) being spent on," said Chris Pieper, chief executive officer of ABC Technologies. Executives need information on the specific activities to which dollars flow in order to make strategic decisions, he said. Scorecarding software allows businesses to take that information gathered by activity-based reporting, and determine what business processes can be improved. Executives can then track the progress of their companies towards the goals set during the self-analysis process, he said.

Companies need to take the additional step of putting analysis plans into action, and practice "active performance management," Pieper said. ABC's products are designed not only to develop business intelligence for decision making, but also to push companies to use the information they gather, he said.

Pieper will become president of SAS' performance management division, the companies said in a statement.

ABC Technologies is a small player in the business intelligence software market next to SAS, which had revenue of US$1.12 billion in 2000. ABC's total revenue in 2001 was $32 million.

SAS will integrate ABC Technologies' products into its extensive product line of business-intelligence applications, said Kuhnel. ABC Technologies' brand, Oros Active Enterprise Management, will be kept until plans are finalized for complete integration, which should arrive in the first half of 2003, she said.The two companies share many customers around the globe, she said.

Employees of ABC Technologies will keep their jobs, with ABC operating as a wholly-owned subsidiary of SAS, but some employees might be offered jobs with SAS itself, she said. Layoffs are not expected, but there might be some "transition of positions," as redundancies are discovered.

SAS also acquired ABC Technologies' portal, a Web site dedicated to management issues and the decision-making process, in the deal. The site, which operates as an independent chronicle of the business-intelligence market, will be mostly unchanged by SAS, said Kuhnel.