Welcome to my first column of 2012. As seems to be the norm over the year-end holiday season, the international ICT market has been dominated by numerous acquisitions, including significant ones by Apax Partners, IBM, Lam Research and SAP; and AT&T's withdrawal of its bid to buy T-Mobile.
At home, Bytes Technology Group's acquisition of Unisys Africa was the highlight in the local ICT media space.
Prince of tweets
A Saudi prince made a $300 million investment in Twitter.
* An interim loss from African Cellular Towers, although revenue up 6.3%.
* A full-year loss from Zaptronix, with revenue down by 16%.
* Positive trading updates from AdaptIT Holdings and Blue Label Telecoms.
* The de-listing of Paracon shares on the JSE, following its acquisition by Adcorp.
* AdaptIT acquired BI Planning Services, a company specialising in business intelligence services.
* Bytes Technology Group, part of the Altron Group, bought Unisys Africa.
* EOH purchased Stanley Security Solutions SA, a company engaged in the building management and security markets.
* Interactive Intelligence acquired Atio's Interactive division for R54 million, to create Interactive Intelligence South Africa, which will be headed by André le Roux.
* Magic Software Enterprises bought Magix Integration, its South African distributor, for $2.8 million.
* Digicore bought the remaining 30% of Digicore Fleet Management it doesn't already own for R13.2 million.
* SNP Schneider-Neureither & Partner, a software and consulting company specialising in business application transformations, launched a distribution company in SA, ie, a subsidiary, which will be managed by Geoff Earnshaw.
* The IT services market in SA grew by 8% in 2010, according to IDC, to contribute more than a third of the total IT spending in the country. IDC expects the local IT services market to exceed $5 billion in 2012 and exceed $17 billion in 2015.
* Intertrading has called off its proposal to ConnectNet Broadband Wireless.
* Servest has signed a three-year full IT outsourcing deal with Dimension Data, worth about R43 million.
* Telkom SA has signed a memorandum of understanding with Korea Telecom.
* The appointments of Michele Beetar as MD of Experian SA; Yolanda Cuba as chairman of MiX Telematics; Peter Leonard as SA country manager for RiT Technologies; and David McMurdo as SA country manager of HP's ESSN unit.
* Rudi Jansen resigned as group CEO of MWeb.
* Telecom Namibia acquired leo (Powercom), the second mobile operator in Namibia. Struggling Powercom, which trades as leo, was sold by Egypt's Orascom Telecom to banks Investec and Nedbank for $60 million in June last year.
* The Algerian government made a 51% investment in Orascom Telecom Algerie, a subsidiary of VimpelCom.
* Microsoft will set up premises in the Science and Technology Park in Maluana, Maputo Province, Mozambique.
* MTN has formed a joint venture with American Tower for the operation of wireless towers in Uganda.
* NigComSat will begin operating a commercial service from 6 February following the successful launch of NigComSat-1R into space in December.
* Sierra Leone plans to revise its telecommunications laws as part of its deregulation programme.
* The new board of Uganda's National IT Authority has been inaugurated.
* The Zambian government has reversed the Zamtel sale to Libya's Lap Green Networks, alleging fraud and corruption by the previous administration.
* The appointments of Arnaud Azilinon as head of Francophone West & Central Africa region; Vasily Dyagliev as MD of Kaspersky Labs Emerging Markets region, which includes Africa; Jo Lunder as chairman of Orascom Telecom; Norman Moyo as CEO of Helios Towers Tanzania; and John Swain as MD of Telecel Zimbabwe.
* Khaled Bichara resigned as chairman of Orascom Telecom.
* Akamai bought Contendo, a network solutions provider and a rival to the former, in a deal worth $268 million.
* American Tower acquired 2 500 towers from Telefonica's Mexican unit, for $500 million. The former has also been heavily involved in similar activity in Africa and more recently in a joint venture with MTN.
* Apax Partners purchased France Telecom's Swiss subsidiary, Orange Switzerland, for $2.14 billion.
* Apple bought Anobit, an Israeli fabless semiconductor company.
* Arkadin, a provider of collaboration solutions, acquired ConferencePlus, a conferencing services provider and a subsidiary of Westell Technologies.
* Arrow Electronics purchased the distribution business of China-based Seed International.
* Autodesk bought T-Splines Modeling Technology, a surface modelling software company.
* Broadcom acquired BroadLight, an Israeli start-up that provides highly integrated networking and embedded processors.
* Corbis, a digital media company owned by Bill Gates, purchased the NMA Group, a pioneer in the realm of branded entertainment.
* Crown Castle International acquired NextG Networks, currently owned by Madison Dearborn Partners, a private equity firm. The deal was worth $1 billion.
* EFI bought Alphagraph, a German-based provider of MIS/ERP software products for the printing industry.
* Facebook purchased Gowalla, a provider of a geo-social application.
* Forsyth Baldwin, part of Forsyth Capital Investors, acquired Baldwin Technology, a print media process automation technology company.
* Google purchased Clever Sense, the developer of the Alfred software application that is used to recommend local restaurants, cafes and other venues for users based on their tastes.
* HP bought Hiflex Software, a German software technology company that specialises in Web-to-print and management information systems for printing services.
* IBM purchased Curam Software, a company that provides software for government agencies to manage social programs.
* IBM acquired DemandTec, an analytics software provider, for $440 million.
* IBM also bought Green Hat, a cloud testing software company.
* IBM purchased Emptoris, an analytics software company.
* Kyocera acquired Optrex, an LCD manufacturer.
* L-3 Communications purchased the defence unit of Danaher for $210 million.
* Lam Research bought Novellus Systems, a supplier of wafer fabrication equipment, for $3.3 billion.
* Lattice Semiconductor acquired SiliconBlue Technologies, a maker of programmable logic chips, for $62 million.
* Marvell bought Xelerated, a Swedish technology innovator in network processing and programmable Ethernet switching solutions.
* Mindspeed Technologies purchased UK-based Picochip, a supplier of integrated system-on-chip solutions for small cell base stations.
* Nokia acquired Smarterphone AS, a Norway-based technology start-up.
* Nuance Communications bought Vlingo, one of the former's competitors.
* Progress Software purchased Corticon Technologies, a vendor of rules management system software.
* QuadraMed acquired NCR's healthcare solutions unit.
* Rousselot, part of the Vion Food Group, bought Kodak's Gelatine unit.
* Salesforce.com purchased Rypple, a cloud-based social performance management company.
* SAP acquired SuccessFactors, a provider of cloud-based human capital management solutions, for $3.4 billion.
* Sterling Infosystems bought Acxiom's screening unit for $74 million.
* SuccessFactors purchased Jobs2web, a marketing recruitment platform.
* Tagged bought Hi5, one of the top three global social media networks.
* Thomas Bravo, a private equity company, acquired Blue Coat Systems for $1.3 billion.
* Verizon Communications purchased a significant swath of wireless spectrum currently owned by a joint venture of Comcast, Time Warner and Bright House Networks. The deal was worth $3.6 billion.
* Xerox (Global Imaging Systems) bought Merizon, a copier and printer distributor.
* Xerox acquired LaserNetworks, a managed print services provider.
* YouTube (Google) bought RightsFlow, a company that will help it identify the owners of music that people use in the videos they post.
* Prudential Financial made a 16% investment in LinkedIn.
* A group led by General Atlantic made a $108 million investment in Mu Sigma, an analytics company.
* TeliaSonera made a $1.52 billion (49%) investment in GSM Kazakhstan.
* A Saudi prince made a $300 million (3.6%) investment in Twitter.
* Huawei Technologies made a 40% investment in Chinasoft International's new IT outsourcing division.
* AT&T has given up on its $39 billion bid for T-Mobile USA.
* The European Commission has ended its investigation into IBM, following concessions by the latter.
* HP will make webOS an open source project, potentially creating a competitor for Android.
* Motorola Mobility has won its patent infringement lawsuit against Microsoft and the case brought by Apple against it regarding patent infringements.
* Sony will sell its 50% stake in its LCD joint venture with Samsung for $940 million.
* DoCoMo, Panasonic, Fujitsu and NEC will form a venture that will develop semiconductors for use in cellphones.
* Very good quarterly figures from Infosys.
* Good quarterly numbers from Accenture, Hon Hai Precision Industry (Foxconn Electronics), Red Hat, Shaw Communications and Tibco Software.
* Satisfactory quarterly results from Jabil Circuit and Oracle.
* Mediocre quarterly results from Asustek, HTC, Progress Software and Research In Motion.
* Mixed quarterly figures from Adobe, with revenue up but profit down.
* Quarterly losses from Ciena, Micron Technology, SAIC and SMSC.
* The appointments of Mark Barrenechea as president and CEO of Open Text; Louis DiNardo as president and CEO of Exar; Mike Pulli as CEO of Pace (UK); Laura Quatela as president of Eastman Kodak; Thomas Rutledge as CEO of Charter Communications; and Scott Thompson as CEO of Yahoo.
* The resignations of Mark Barrenechea, president and CEO of Silicon Graphics; Neil Gaydon, CEO of Pace; and Ravi Ruia, founder of the Essar Group.
* The retirements of Irwine Jacobs, founder and ex-CEO and chairman of Qualcomm; John Shackleton, president and CEO of Open Text; and Ren Zhengfei, founder and CEO of Huawei Technologies (date still undecided).
* The deaths of Patricia Dunn, one-time chairman of HP; and Jacob Goldman, founder of Xerox Lab.
* A planned IPO in Q1 2012 from Epam, an IT services provider with operations in Russia.
* A planned IPO in the US by Guidewire Software, an on-demand subscription software provider.
* A planned IPO in China of Xinhua's online portal.
* An IPO filing in the US by Millennial Media, the number two mobile ad platform.
* A possible IPO in Hong Kong by Rovio, the creator of Angry Birds.
* A possible IPO in the US by Spunk, a software company that helps companies collect and analyse internal data.
* An IPO filing in the US by Infoblox, a data centre provider.
* An IPO filing on Nasdaq from Cantor Entertainment Technology.
* An IPO filing on the NYSE by AVG Technologies, an anti-virus software maker.
* An IPO filing on Nasdaq by Proofpoint, a cloud-based data security provider.
* An IPO filing by Avast Software, an anti-virus software maker.
* A successful IPO in Tokyo by Nexon, an online gaming firm.
* A very successful IPO on Nasdaq by Jive Software, a company that makes software to integrate online communities, micro-blogging, social networking, discussion forums, blogs, wikis and instant messaging under one interface.
* A disappointing IPO on Nasdaq by Zynga, but still the largest Internet IPO since Google.
In the annual shuffle of the Nasdaq-100 index, Avago Technologies and Nuance Communications have now been included, although NII Holdings has been dropped; nevertheless, overall, this is a strengthening of the ICT component of this index.
In the UK, software companies seem to be taking flight from the 'Aim' market, with several undergoing either management buy-outs or sell-outs to private equity firms over the past few weeks. These include Clarity Commerce Solutions, Parseq and WorkPlace Systems.
* A possible chapter 11 bankruptcy filing by Eastman Kodak.
* A possible anti-trust case against Google by the European Commission.
* The sell-off by Nokia of its luxury subsidiary, Vertu.
* A possible re-trial of the Microsoft versus Novell anti-trust case.
* The battle for the control of UK-listed IndigoVision, an Internet-based digital camera security systems company.
* The start of the operations of Mozambique's third mobile operator, Movitel.
* The start of the operations of Set Mobile, Cameroon's third mobile operator.
* South Africa:
* Further developments regarding Telkom SA and its relationship with Korea Telecom.
* Worldwide media tablet shipments grew 23.9% in Q3 2011 to 18.1 million units, although below the original forecast of 19.2 million units, according to IDC.
* Storage software revenue reached $3.5 billion in Q3 2011, a 9.7% increase over the same period in 2010, according to IDC.
* The worldwide hardcopy peripherals market grew 1.6% in Q3 2011, with 31.3 million units shipped, says IDC. HP maintained a significant lead over its rivals: Canon, Epson, Samsung and Brother.
* Semiconductor sales reached $302 billion in 2011, a 0.9% increase over 2010, according to Gartner. TI replaced Toshiba for the number three slot, behind Intel and Samsung Electronics.
* Worldwide semiconductor revenue will grow only 2.2% in 2012, says Gartner, a lower projection than its previous forecast.
* The worldwide external controller-based disk storage market grew 10.4% in Q3 2011, with EMC maintaining its lead over IBM, NetApp, HP, Hitachi and Dell, according to Gartner.
* Worldwide IT spending will grow 3.7% in 2012 to $3.7 trillion, says Gartner.
* Worldwide PC shipments declined 1.4% in Q4 2011, with Lenovo claiming the number two spot behind HP, and closing in rapidly, according to Gartner.
* IBM received the most patents last year, according to IFI Claims Patent Services. Microsoft dropped to number six in the rankings, behind Samsung Electronics, Canon, Panasonic and Toshiba.
* JSE All share index: Up 1%
* Nasdaq: Up 1.4%
* Top SA share movements: AdaptIT (+22.1%), Amecor (+40.6%), BCX (-15.4%), Metrofile (+20%), MICROmega (-32.8%), PBT (+37%), Pinnacle (+14.5%), Poynting Antennas (+16.7%), Stella Vista (-60%) and TCS (+100%)
Forbes magazine has just published its listing of 'America's Most Promising Companies'. From a technology perspective, the following are a handful to note:
* BOKU at number two, a provider of software and services and a world leader in online payments;
* Virtual Instruments at number six, a leader in instrumentation, measurement, and monitoring solutions that allow enterprises to optimise the performance, availability, and utilisation of storage area networks and virtualised IT infrastructure;
* Opower at 10, an energy information software company;
* 3Cinteractive at 12, a company that provides integrated mobile software and services that help businesses communicate with consumers on their mobile device; and
* Scale Computing at 13, a company that delivers multi-protocol enterprise-class storage at SME prices.
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