Mercury Rising – HP to snap up mgt software firm in US$4.5B mega deal

Hewlett-Packard Co. said Tuesday that it has reached an agreement to acquire Mercury Interactive Corp., an IT management software and services firm, in a deal worth approximately US$4.5 billion.

HP officials said in a statement announcing the deal that they expect the purchase to boost HP’s portfolio of IT management software and services.

“Today, we are combining two market-leading businesses to create the most powerful management software portfolio in the industry,” said Mark Hurd, HP’s CEO and president. “Together, they will help customers cut their IT costs, speed the delivery of new services and drive profitable growth at HP. We expect this important acquisition to deliver significant value for our shareholders.”

Mercury Interactive CEO and President Tony Zingale said the union means the two companies will “instantly become the industry’s premier provider of business technology optimization software.”

HP plans to pay $52 per share for Mercury Interactive, with the acquisition expected to increase the size of HP’s software business to more than $2 billion a year in revenue. Once the deal closes, Mountain View, Calif.-based Mercury will become part of the HP software business, with both companies’ sales forces cross-selling each others’ products.

In a conference call with news media late Tuesday, Hurd said he expects the acquisition to help HP become a more powerful force in the software industry. “Software is core to the strategy of the entire company,” he said. “When you have an opportunity to acquire a company like Mercury, you do it.”

HP is paying a stock premium of about 33 percent to purchase Mercury shares — an amount Hurd called “not unusual.”

“I think this premium accurately reflects the value of this property,” he said. “We see a lot of opportunity for HP.”

The deal has been under consideration for some time, he said. “From a strategic standpoint, the fact that [Mercury is a] software business that was almost a perfect complement for our software business” made the deal a good one, according to Hurd.

“We think it makes sense,” he said. “We are very focused on making this right and making this work. I am confident that this transaction demonstrates that HP is building a software company that is to be reckoned with.”

Thomas Hogan, senior vice president of HP’s software business, said the product lines from the two companies “complement each other almost completely, with no product overlap.”

The transaction brings together the strength of HP OpenView systems, network and IT service management software with Mercury’s strength in application management, application delivery, IT governance and service-oriented architecture governance, according to HP.

Jason Bloomberg, an analyst with ZapThink LLC in Baltimore, said that the deal now creates a battle of the titans between HP, CA and IBM to see who can put together the most compelete enterprise information management offering. He said the battle zone is shaping up to be over service-oriented governance.

“With the Mercury acquisition, HP now adds full lifecycle management to the mix, and what will likely turn out to be the gem of the deal: the Systinet registry, HP’s answer to IBM’s new [Web services] registry product,” Bloomberg said.

HP said it expects the purchase to close by the end of the year.

Computerworld’s Ken Mingis contributed to this report.

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