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Column

Under pressure

Fujitsu looks to offload its mobile operations as it faces stiff competition from bigger rivals.

A handful of acquisitions, including ones by Accenture, Cisco and Verisk Analytics, were the highlights of a quiet international ICT market last week.

At home, speculation over the future of Sahara Computers was one of the main stories.

Key local news

* Satisfactory year-end figures from Blue Label Telecoms, with revenue up 0.4% and profit up 12.2%.
* Mixed year-end numbers from Net1 UEPS Technologies, with revenue up 3.2% but profit down 11.5%.
* Discover Digital International, a South African on-demand solutions provider, bought Turkey-based IKON Interactive's content management solution and source code.
* Renewed JSE cautionaries by Huge Group and MICROmega Holdings.
* The appointments of Johan Ceronio as chairman of Praesignis Group (was CEO); Gawie Erasmus as CEO of Praesignis Group; Kuben Pillay as chairman of Cell C; Larry Nestadt as deputy chairman of Cell C; and Tony Taylor as chairman of PBT Group.
* The resignation of Murray Louw, chairman of PBT Group (stays on as CFO).

Key African news

* Good half-year numbers from Telekom Networks Malawi, with revenue up 22.9% and EBITDA up 25.7%.
* Good half-year figures from Helios Towers, with revenue up 40.8% and EBITDA up 69.7%.

Key international news

* Accenture acquired Verax Solutions, a Canadian technology and systems-integration consulting firm.
* Avnet bought Dragon Innovation, expanding the global distributor's portfolio of offerings for customers as they move from design to prototype to volume production.
* CGI purchased Summa Technologies, a high-end IT consultancy with expertise in digital experience and agile software development.
* Cisco acquired Springpath, a provider of hyper convergence software, for $320 million.
* Ebix, an international supplier of on-demand software and e-commerce services to the financial services and healthcare industry, acquired YouFirst Money Express, a subsidiary of YouFirst Ventures.* German photonics group Jenoptik bought US process automation firm Five Lakes, a car industry specialist.
* Paychex purchased HR Outsourcing Holdings, a US national professional employer organisation that provides human resource solutions to small and medium-sized businesses.
* Playtech acquired technology, intellectual property and some customer assets of the ACM Group, as the gambling technology company looks to build on its financials division.
* Verisk Analytics purchased US-based LCI, a provider of risk insight, prediction and management solutions for banks and creditors; and UK-based Sequel, an insurance and reinsurance software specialist.
* Vista Equity acquired Applause, an app testing firm.
* A Western Digital-led consortium proposed a $17.4 billion acquisition of Toshiba's chip unit. The consortium also includes US private equity firm KKR as well as the state-backed Innovation Network Corporation of Japan and the Development Bank of Japan.

A Western Digital-led consortium proposed a $17.4 billion acquisition of Toshiba's chip unit.

* JD.com invested in Indonesian ride-hailing start-up Go-Jek.
* Mitac Holding invested (a major stake) in India-based Infopower Technologies, a manufacturer of printed circuit boards and an electronics product assembly service provider.
* Softbank made an additional $3 billion investment in WeWork, a shared-office start-up.
* The US District Court for the District of Delaware ruled to dismiss all claims against Spark Networks brought by Jedi Technologies, alleging patent infringement on the part of Spark Networks and certain affiliates.
* A South Korean court jailed Samsung Electronics vice-chairman Jay Y Lee for five years for bribery.
* The shares of Play Communications, Poland, are now trading on the Warsaw Stock Exchange following a successful IPO.
* Excellent quarterly results from USA Technologies (back in the black).
* Very good quarterly figures from Fabrinet and Veeva Systems.
* Good quarterly numbers from Broadcom (back in the black), Daktronics, Intuit (back in the black), VMware and Zayo Group (back in the black).
* Good half-year numbers from Playtech and ZTE.
* Satisfactory quarterly results from Marvell Technology Group.
* Satisfactory half-year figures from China Telecom.
* Mediocre quarterly results from Bezeq and Lingo Media.
* Mixed quarterly figures from HP, with revenue up but profit down; OSI Systems, with revenue up but profit down; and Salesforce.com, with revenue up but profit down.
* Quarterly losses from Autodesk, Brocade, Cree, Gridsum, Lantronix, Pure Storage, QAD, Splunk and Uber.
* The appointments of Kevin Conley as CEO of Everspin; Scott Dietzen as chairman of Pure Storage (was CEO); Charles Giancarlo as CEO of Pure Storage; Nandan Nilekani as chairman of Infosys; Vikram Sinha as acting CEO of Ooredoo Myanmar; Justine Smyth as chairman of Spark New Zealand; Scott Wagner as CEO of GoDaddy; and Edward West as CEO of Cardtronics.
* The resignation of Rene Meza, CEO of Ooredoo Myanmar.
* The retirements of Blake Irvine, CEO of GoDaddy; Steven Rathgaber, CEO of Cardtronics; long-time Intel executive Stacy Smith; and Mark Verbiest, chairman of Spark New Zealand.
* The departure of Derek Aberle, president of Qualcomm.
* A planned IPO on the Taiwan Stock Exchange from power discrete component supplier HY Electronic between late Q3 and early Q4 2017.

Research results and predictions

Worldwide:
* Global TDDI (touch and display driver integration) chip shipments for 2017 are estimated to soar 191% year-on-year due mainly to increased shipments of hybrid in-cell TDDI chips and the growing incorporation of TDDI chips into display panels, according to Digitimes Research.
* Sales in the global DRAM market surged 16.9% sequentially to $16.51 billion in Q217, according to DRAMeXchange.
* Global sales of smartphones to end-users totalled 366.2 million units in Q217, a 6.7% increase over Q216, according to Gartner. In the smartphone operating system market, Android extended its lead with 87.7% market share, while iOS accounted for 12.1%.
* According to Gartner, 310.4 million wearable devices will be sold worldwide in 2017, an increase of 16.7% from 2016. Sales of wearable devices will generate revenue of $30.5 billion in 2017; of that, $9.3 billion will be from smartwatches.
* End-user spending for the worldwide virtual personal assistant-enabled wireless speaker market is forecast to reach $3.52 billion by 2021, up from $0.72 billion in 2016, according to Gartner.
* Global shipments of personal computing devices, comprising traditional PCs (a combination of desktop, notebook and workstations) and tablets (slates and detachables), are expected to continue a slight decline through 2021, according to IDC. The results show PCD shipments declining from 435.1 million units in 2016 to 398.3 million in 2021, which represents a five-year CAGR of -1.7%.
* The worldwide semiconductor market is forecast to grow by 17% to $397 billion in 2017, according to World Semiconductor Trade Statistics.

Stock market changes

* JSE All share index: Up 2.4% (highest weekend close)
* FTSE100: Up 1.1%
* DAX: Flat (marginally up)
* NYSE (Dow): Up 0.6%
* S&P 500: Up 0.7%
* Nasdaq: Up 0.8%
* Nikkei225: Down 0.1%
* Hang Seng: Up 3% (highest weekend close this year)
* Shanghai: Up 1.9% (highest weekend close this year)

Look out for

International:
* Fujitsu offloading its mobile operations as the Japanese IT company faces stiff competition from bigger rivals in a highly lucrative mobile phone market. Interest has come from investment funds including Tokyo-based Polaris Capital Group and Britain's CVC Capital Partners, as well as the Lenovo Group.
* Veritas Capital selling two hi-tech portfolio companies, worth nearly $3 billion in total.

South Africa:
* The future of Sahara Computers.

Final word

Forbes recently published its 2017 list of ‘Small Giants' – 25 companies that value greatness over growth. They aren't opposed to growth, just to growth at all costs. The 25 businesses have sound models, strong balance sheets and steady profit, and are all privately owned and closely held. They contribute to their communities. They have been acknowledged as outstanding by others in their field, and they do things any business can learn from. The following are included and may emerge as significant players further down the line:

* Basecamp: makes cloud-based software that provides small businesses with a centralised system that brings together internal communications, projects and client work in one location.
* FreshBooks: provider of online accounting software and services.
* imageOne: a printing services company.
* Menlo Innovations: a maker of custom software.
* OnceLogix: a provider of healthcare software and services such as an electronic health records system.
* Optifuse: a maker of circuit protection devices and other technology hardware and equipment.


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