Business Objects to Buy Crystal Decisions

The cash and stock deal is valued at $820 million.

Business Objects SA announced Friday that it will acquire rival business intelligence and reporting software developer Crystal Decisions Inc. in a cash and stock deal valued at $820 million.

Under the terms of the agreement, Business Objects will issue approximately 26.5 million shares of common stock in respect of outstanding Crystal Decisions common shares and stock options, which will represent approximately 29 percent of the combined companys shares. Crystal Decisions stockholders will also receive an aggregate of $300 million in cash.

"With this combination, we will seize the opportunity to take a leadership position in the BI market," said Bernard Liautaud, chairman and CEO of Business Objects in a statement. "The two companies are not only successful leaders in their space but have extremely complementary businesses, across many dimensions: product capabilities, distribution channels, international coverage, and skillset."

Business Objects officials said Crystal Decisions enterprise reporting software will combine with their own ad hoc query and analysis, enterprise performance management and data integration applications to create the most complete business intelligence platform on the market.

"The plan is to maintain both companies brands," said Business Objects vice president of product marketing Chris Caren. "Well maintain both companies core products and move onto one platform."

Caren said there were no plans yet to eliminate any products, though Crystal Decisions had been increasingly positioning itself against Business Objects.

"There was really more overlap in the marketing message than in brass tacks products," he said.

He said there were synergies in other areas as well. Business Objects, based in Paris, with U.S. headquarters in San Jose, Calif., has a stronger European sales channel as well as a stronger presence in direct enterprise sales and among system integrators. Crystal Decisions, based in Palo Alto, Calif., on the other hand has a number of OEM relationships that Business Objects hopes to leverage.

Caren said Business Objects would maintain and look to expand those relationships. The four largest are with SAP AG, Microsoft, Hyperion Solutions Corp. and PeopleSoft Inc.

"This acquisition isnt about consolidation, its about growth," he said.

The acquisition is expected to close by November. Crystal Decisions is privately held, though had registered for an initial public offering in May. The companys IPO registration indicated annual revenues of $271 million and net income of $27 million. Crystal Decisions had been a part of Seagate Technology LLC, but was spun off into a separate company after Seagate was acquired by investment group New SAC in 2000.