Holiday shopping abounds

The international ICT market was dominated by many major and smaller acquisitions over December.

Read time 12min 50sec

Welcome to my first column of 2014. As seems to be the norm over the year-end holiday season, the international ICT market has been dominated by numerous acquisitions (>50), including significant ones by Avago Technologies, FireEye, IBM, Oracle and T-Mobile, and several small ones by Yahoo.

At home, the disposal by Telkom SA of its pan-Africa interests, and Mustek's acquisition of Sizwe Africa IT Group were two of the main local stories.

Key local news of the past six weeks

* Satisfactory interim numbers from Amecor, with revenue up 14.6% and profit up 0.8%.
* An interim loss from TCS, with revenue down 40%.
* A full-year loss from ConvergeNet Holdings.
* A positive trading update from Poynting Holdings.
* A negative trading update from Labat Africa.
* The suspension of the listing of TCS shares.
* The de-listing of Stella Vista shares from the Development Capital sector of the JSE.
* Blue Label Telecoms acquired Retail Mobile Credit Specialists, an enhanced service provider of cellular products and services, for R306.6 million.
* Mustek bought Sizwe Africa IT Group, a company that until recently was part of ConvergeNet Holdings. The deal was worth R15.2 million.
* MTN made a 33.3% investment in Africa Internet Holding, a venture designed to tap business opportunities in areas such as online retail and digital services. The other two shareholders are Millicom International Cellular and Rocket Telecom, a start-up specialist.
* Net 1 UEPS Technologies has signed a BEE deal with Business Ventures Investments worth R264 million.
* Entersekt has won a Frost & Sullivan award for technology leadership.
* A new JSE cautionary by Morvest Business Group.
* A renewed JSE cautionary by TCS.
* Withdrawn JSE cautionaries by Jasco and Poynting Holdings.
* The appointments of Hanno van Dyk as CEO of Sizwe IT Group; Pierre Spies as CEO of Pinnacle Africa (as of 1 June 2014); and Dolph Waterbos as CEO of Westcon Group.
* The resignations of Danie Bishoff, interim CEO of ConvergeNet Holdings; Dean Douglas, CEO of Westcon Group; and Tim Modise, CEO of Sizwe IT Group.
* The suspension of Simphiwe Duma, CEO of the Technology Innovation Agency.

Key African news

* Econet Wireless Global purchased Altron's 8.6% stake in Liquid Telecommunications Holdings for $55 million.
* Gondwana International Networks bought Telkom's pan-African businesses, iWayAfrica and Africa Online Mauritius.
* IHS Holding acquired MTN's tower portfolio in Rwanda and Zambia.
* Essar made an additional investment in its Kenyan subsidiary, thereby giving it full ownership.
* Techno Brain will set up an IT academy in Kenya during 2014.
* The Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency has set 31 July as its digital migration deadline.
* The Tanzanian government plans to buy Bharti Airtel's 35% stake in TTCL.
* Vodacom has opened an office in Ethiopia.
* The appointments of Bruce Grobler as director of Schneider Electric's southern African IT business; and Otema Yirenki as country manager of Microsoft Ghana.

Key international news

Entersekt has won a Frost & Sullivan award for technology leadership.

* 3D Systems acquired Figulo, a manufacturer of ceramic objects using 3D printing.
* Akamai Technologies bought Prolexic, a cloud-based security firm, for $370 million.
* Apple purchased SnappyLabs, a burst photo app maker; and Topsy ($200 million), a social media search and analytics start-up.
* Arm Holdings acquired Geomerics, a lighting graphics technology company.
* AT&T bought 49 advanced wireless services spectrum licences from Aloha Partners II.
* Avago Technologies purchased LSI Corporation, a maker of storage and networking semiconductors, for $6.6 billion.
* Blue Coat Systems acquired Norman Shark, a specialist in malware analysis solutions.
* Cisco bought Collaborate, a start-up that has developed a mobile collaboration app.
* Citrix Systems purchased Framehawk, a company that optimises delivery of virtual desktops and applications to mobile devices.
* Convergys acquired Stream Global Services, a customer service company, for $820 million.
* eBay bought StackMob, a mobile app developer.
* EchoStar purchased Solaris Mobile, a mobile satellite services operator that was jointly owned by SES and Eutelsat Communications.
* Elliott Management, an activist hedge fund, proposed an offer of $3.08 billion to acquire Riverbed Technology.
* Engility bought Dynamics Research, an IT service provider and management consultancy, for $120 million.
* Facebook purchased India-based Little Eye Labs, a builder of performance analysis and monitoring tools for mobile app developers.
* FireEye acquired Mandiant, a cyber-forensics specialist firm, for $1.05 billion.
* Frontier Communications bought AT&T's Connecticut wireline business for $2 billion.
* Google purchased Bitspin, a Swiss mobile app developer; and Boston Dynamics, a robot builder.
* IBM acquired Aspera, a company that helps users securely speed the movement of massive data files.
* Infor bought PeopleAnswers, an HR company focused on behavioural traits of job candidates.
* Intel purchased Hacker League, a company that helps service developers in API tracking, metering and security to provide access to critical data; and the wireless infrastructure business of Mindspeed Technologies.
* Intuit acquired Docstoc, a small business document start-up.
* iQor Holdings bought the aftermarket services of Jabil Circuit for $725 million.
* JDS Uniphase purchased Network Instruments, a maker of testing equipment for computer networks, for $200 million.
* A Madison Dearborn-led consortium acquired Alcatel-Lucent's LGS Innovations unit for $200 million.
* Merck, the world's largest maker of liquid crystal as used in TVs, tablets and smartphone screens, bought UK-based AZ Electronic Materials for $2.6 billion.
* Microsoft purchased Parature, a customer service SaaS provider, for $100 million.
* NCR acquired Digital Insight in a move to gain software for online and mobile banking. The deal was worth $1.65 billion.
* Oracle bought Corente, a cloud-based services company; and Responsys ($1.39 billion), a Web-based marketing software maker.
* Orange Business Services purchased Atheos, a security specialist.
* Palo Alto Networks acquired Morta Security, a security start-up.
* PCCW (Hong Kong) bought Telstra's Hong Kong mobile unit, CSL, for $2.43 billion.
* Perion Network purchased Conduit's ClientConnect business for $660 million.
* Pinterest acquired VisualGraph, an image recognition start-up.
* SBA Communications bought 2007 towers from Oi (Brazil) for $645 million.
* Seagate Technology purchased Xyratex, a network and storage company, for $374 million.
* Sonus Networks acquired Performance Technologies for $30 million.
* Splunk bought Cloudmeter, a provider of network data capture technologies.
* T-Mobile purchased a large chunk of 700MHz spectrum licences from Verizon Communications, in a deal worth $3.3 billion.
* Tribune acquired Sony's Gracenote subsidiary for $170 million.
* Verint bought Kana Software, a player in customer service solutions, for $514 million.
* Verizon Communications purchased EdgeCast Networks, a content delivery network, for over $350 million.
* WiLAN, a patent holding company, acquired about 900 patents owned by Panasonic, relating to a broad range of technologies in the field of semiconductor devices.
* Yahoo bought Evntlive, a streaming video start-up; PeerCDN, a content delivery start-up; Ptch, the DreamWorks Animation-incubated mobile video start-up; QuikIO, a cross-platform video streaming start-up; and SkyPhrase, a natural language processing company.
* Yandex purchased KinoPoisk, Russia's equivalent of Amazon's Internet Movie Database, for $80 million.
* Alibaba made a $364 million investment in Haier, the Chinese appliance maker.
* KKR, a private equity firm, made a 6.8% investment in Marvell Technology Group.
* SAP made a 5.9% investment in GK Software, a provider of retail software solutions.
* The merger of the mobile assets of Rostelecom (Russia) and Tele2 Russia into a new company, T2 RTK Holding, which will have a subscriber base of about 38 million customers.
* Alcatel-Lucent disposed of its corporate telephony unit, leaving the company to focus on its IP networking products.
* The following patent and lawsuit activity:
* Apple and Samsung have agreed to mediation in their US patent fight.
* A British court ruled that HTC had infringed Nokia's patents related to mobile phone microchips, although the HTC's One Mini phone will not be embargoed following the lodging of an appeal by the company against the judgment.
* Rambus and Micron Technology have agreed to a licence deal and settled all the patent disputes between them.
* Google is being sued by UK users for alleged breach of privacy, and the EU has rejected its latest antitrust offer.
* Vringo has won a patent case in Germany against ZTE.
* The US ITC said Huawei Technologies, Nokia and ZTE didn't infringe cellphone patents owned by InterDigital.
* An appeals court has upheld a decision that Apple didn't violate Google's (Motorola Mobility) patent to make the iPhone.
* The Cypriot government has approved plans for the privatisation of Cyta, the state-owned telco.
* Inmarsat has launched the first of three satellites in its new 5 F1 Global Xpress constellation that will offer the world's first globally available high-speed mobile broadband service.
* Nasdaq announced its annual changes to the Nasdaq-100 Index, which includes Dish Network and NXP Semiconductor being added, and Microchip Technology and Nuance Communications being removed from the index.
* The Japanese government has sold a portion of its stake in NTT for $1.5 billion.
* Facebook will join the S&P 500 index.
* Excellent quarterly results from Micron Technology (back in the black).
* Good quarterly numbers from Avago Technologies, Red Hat and Synopsys.
* Satisfactory quarterly results from Accenture, Infosys and OmniVision Technologies.
* Mediocre quarterly results from Adobe and HTC.
* Mixed quarterly figures from Jabil Circuit, with revenue down but profit up; Oracle, with revenue up but profit down; Progress Software, with revenue up but profit down; Sage Group, with revenue up but profit well down; Synnex, with revenue up but profit down; and Tibco Software, with revenue up but profit down.
* Quarterly losses from BlackBerry ($4.4 billion), Ciena and VeriFone Systems Management.
* The appointments of Howard Bain III as interim CEO of Violin Memory; Jason Chen as CEO and president of Acer; Sanjat Jha (ex-Motorola Mobility CEO) as CEO of GlobalFoundries; Peter Leav as CEO of Polycom; Dominique Leroy as CEO of Belgacom; Steve Mollenkopf as CEO of Qualcomm; and Hiroaki Nakanishi as CEO of Hitachi.
* The resignations of Paul Jacobs, CEO of Qualcomm (stays on as executive chairman) and Kevin Parker, interim CEO of Polycom (stays on as chairman).
* The departure of Donald Basile, CEO of Violin Memory.
* The death of Rob Conway, former CEO of GSMA.
* Planned IPOs from Altice, a European telecoms group; and Vidyard, a video analytics company.
* An IPO filing from Compliance & Risk Management Solutions.
, literary content and entertainment services for Android.
* An excellent IPO on the NYSE by Nimble Storage, a provider of data storage platforms.

Look out for

* International:
* An agreement by Western governments that would put cyber security technologies on the same footing as regular armaments.
* A bid by AT&T for a block of spectrum licences held by Verizon Communications. T-Mobile has already expressed an interest as well.
* The battle for Compuware by various private equity groups.
* A possible bid by Sprint for T-Mobile US, in a deal that could be worth more than $20 billion.
* The possible sell-off by CVC, a private equity fund, of Sunrise, Switzerland's second largest mobile operator.
* The fate of LightSquared, the wireless telecoms group that went into bankruptcy proceedings.
* The outcome of talks between T-Mobile and SoftBank.
* The possible acquisition by Vodafone of India's Tata Teleservices.

* Africa:
* The listing of Cote d'Ivorie Telecom on the local exchange in that country.
* Zain's re-entry into the North Africa telecommunications market.
* Further developments regarding the fate of Nitel (Nigeria), following fresh interest shown by Brymedia.

* South Africa:
* Further developments in the consolidation of the telecommunications sector, with deals involving companies such as Cell C, MTN, Neotel, Telkom Mobile and Vodacom.

Research results and predictions

* Africa:
* The South African security appliance market grew 0.8% in Q3 2013 to reach $12.07 million, according to IDC.
* The Moroccan IT services market is set to expand at a CAGR of 10.3% over the coming years, according to IDC.

* The overall EMEA server market declined 3% in Q3 2013 to $2.8 billion, with CEMA showing a 4.5% decrease, according to IDC.
* The EMEA security appliance market grew 6.6% in Q3 2013, according to IDC.

* Worldwide:
* Worldwide IT spending is on pace to reach $3.8 trillion in 2014, according to Gartner.
* Worldwide PC shipments declined 6.9% in Q4 2013, with Lenovo at number one, followed by HP, Dell, Acer and Asus, according to Gartner.
* The Internet of Things installed base will grow to 26 billion units by 2020. In 2009, the number was 0.9 billion, according to Gartner.
* More than 1 billion Android devices will be shipped this year, according to Gartner.
* Worldwide shipments of traditional PC, tablet, ultra-mobile and mobile phones will grow 7.6% this year, according to Gartner.
* Factory revenue in the worldwide server market decreased 3.7% in Q3 2013, with HP showing a small growth as compared to drops by IBM and Dell, according to IDC.
* Worldwide external disk storage factory revenue declined 3.5% in Q3 2013, with EMC still maintaining the number one position, well ahead of NetApp, according to IDC.
* The worldwide total disk storage systems market declined 5.6% in Q3 2013, with EMC still keeping its lead over HP and IBM, according to IDC.
* Tablet shipment forecasts are projected to slow to single digits by 2017, with an expected shipment numbering 221.3 million units last year and 270.5 million units in 2014, according to IDC.
* The worldwide storage software market grew 1.5% in Q3 2013 to $3.47 billion, according to IDC.
* LTE connections are expected to reach 2 billion in 2018, according to Strategy Analytics.

Stock market changes

* JSE All share index: Up 1.3% (An all-time high reached during this period)
* Nasdaq: Up 2.8% (A 13-year high reached during this period)
* NYSE (Dow): Up 2.2% (An all-time high reached during this period)
* S&P 500: Up 2% (An all-time high reached during this period)
* FTSE100: Up 1.3% * Top SA share movements: Amecor (+14%), Digicore (+21.2%), Gijima (-16.7%), Huge Group (-46.2%), Net 1 UEPS Technologies (+48.8%), Poynting Holdings (+37.5%), Sekunjalo (-32.1%), Silverbridge Holdings (+37.5%), Telemasters (+107.3%) and Telkom SA (+20.1%)

Final word

Fortune Magazine recently announced its Top 10 Businesspersons list for 2013. From a technology perspective, it included:

* 3: 'Pony' Ma Huateng, co-founder and CEO of Tencent
* 5: (Joint) Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix
* 6: Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon
* 8: Larry Page, co-founder and CEO of Google
* 10: Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo

See also