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Column

A season to shop

The international ICT world spent the holiday period shopping, IBM specifically making four purchases.

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.

Key local news of the past six weeks

Prince of tweets

A Saudi prince made a $300 million investment in Twitter.

* Good year-end figures from Dimension Data, with revenue up 14.8% and operating profit up 10.8%; and Telemasters, with revenue up 13.2% and profit up 28.2%.
* 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.

Key African news

* 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.

Key international news

* Adtran purchased the fixed-line broadband access division of Nokia Siemens Networks.
* 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.

Look out for

* International:
* 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.

* Africa:
* 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.

Research results and predictions

* 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.

Stock market changes

* 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%)

Final word

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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