Business Objects to acquire Crystal Decisions

Business Objects SA has agreed to acquire Crystal Decisions Inc. in a US$820 million cash and stock deal that will create a one-stop shop for business intelligence software products, the companies said recently.

“The combined company will be number one in each of the main markets it serves,” Business Objects Chairman and CEO Bernard Liautaud said on a conference call. Business Objects specializes in ad hoc querying, reporting and analysis tools, while Crystal Decisions focuses on enterprise reporting.

With little overlap in the product lines, both companies’ offerings will continue to be supported after the takeover and the combined sales team will sell all products, Liautaud said. Plans were in place at both Business Objects and Crystal Decisions to enter each other’s market in the future, but those plans will be cancelled, he said.

“Today the products have little overlap, but in the long term both product teams have plans to overlap each other. We will reorganize the research and development energies to…drive them to new products in new areas of business intelligence that have potential,” Liautaud said.

Crystal Decisions President and CEO Jon Judge said combining his company with Business Objects accomplishes “almost every strategic imperative” Crystal Decisions had. “This is the defining moment for the business intelligence industry,” he said on the conference call.

Under the terms of the agreement, Business Objects will issue 26.5 million new shares, which will represent about 29 per cent of the combined company’s shares. In addition Crystal Decisions owners will receive US$300 million in cash, the companies said in a statement.

The deal, expected to close in the fourth quarter and subject to customary conditions such as shareholder and regulatory approval, should also result in about US$25 million in cost savings next year as a result of synergies, the companies said in a statement.

Business Objects, with dual headquarters in San Jose, Calif., and Paris, is seen by Gartner Inc. analysts as the business intelligence market bellwether. Crystal Decisions, in Palo Alto, Calif., is also seen as a strong vendor, according to Gartner research notes published earlier this year.