'Twas the season for shopping

More than 60 acquisitions or investments took place over the festive season in the global ICT world.

Welcome to my first column of 2017. As seems to be the norm over the holiday season, the international ICT market was dominated by over 60 acquisitions or investments, some of which are mentioned below.

At home, the news regarding a shake-up at Altron was the main local story.

Key local news of the past six weeks

Altron announced a major shake-up.

* Excellent interim numbers from M-FiTec, with income up 355.6%.
* Mixed interim numbers from Prescient, with revenue up 12.4% but profit down 24.4%.
* Mixed Q1 figures from Telemasters, with revenue up 7.4% but profit down 24.2%.
* An interim loss from Ellies, with revenue down 26%.
* The termination of the listing of MTN Zakhele.
* MegaFon acquired a 63.8% stake in, the Russian group that provides Internet services - including mapping and games and in which Naspers has a shareholding - in a deal worth $740 million.
* Standard Bank bought a majority stake in Firepay, the developer of SnapScan, a mobile payment service.
* Aucom Management purchased Alaris's 100% stake in it, in exchange for shares held by the former in the latter.
* Telkom made a R1 billion investment in Business Connexion as working capital to settle debts and fund further expansion. In addition, it will provide R155 million in financial assistance to Acajou Investments, a 100% subsidiary that has been converted for purposes of housing and funding a new business venture in the digital gaming arena. It will be renamed Digital Gaming League Holdings.
* Former MTN SA CEO, Zunaid Bulbulia, and former senior banker and respected IT analyst, Duarte da Silva, made a R127.5 million investment in Huge Group, a company in which both serve on the board.
* Altron announced a major shake-up that will see a R400 million capital investment from Value Capital Partners and a complete overhaul of its management structure that includes a significant dilution of the Venter's family interest in the company.
* South African start-up Onyx Connect is set to manufacture smartphones in Africa. Onyx is licensed to load Google software like Android and Chrome onto devices sold under the company's own brand or products. It has raised $10.8 million from investors and is set to begin production in Q117.
* The optical fibre cable manufacturing plant located within the within Dube TradePort Special Economic Zone, in KwaZulu-Natal, is now operational, after six months of construction, with commercial production beginning early this year.
* A new JSE cautionary by Altron.
* A renewed JSE cautionary by M-FiTec.
* A withdrawn JSE cautionary by Huge Group.
* The appointments of Jens Schulte-Bockum as COO of MTN Group; Chris Volschenk as CEO of StorTech; and Doug Wooley as GM of Dell EMC SA.
* The departure of Steven Hayward, CEO of StorTech.
* The retirement of Jyoti Desai, COO of MTN Group.

Key African news

* Liquid Telecom acquired Tanzanian ISP Raha.
* Frost & Sullivan presented its African Tech Trends for 2017 report.
* Orange has rebranded M'editel Morocco, in which it owns 49%, as Orange Maroc.
* SYSPRO has opened an office in Nairobi, Kenya.
* The appointments of David Griffiths as Tintri's VP EMEA; Kevin Hardy as BT's manager for Africa; Casper Herzberg as MEA president for Schneider Electric; and Gilbert Saggia as MD, East Africa, for SAP Africa.

Key international news

* Accenture acquired Arismore, a French security company, as well as Altitude, a product design and innovation company.
* Akamai Technologies bought Cyberfend, an innovator in bot and automation detection solutions for Web and mobile environments.
* Alibaba purchased Intime, a Chinese department store operator, for $2.6 billion, as the e-commerce giant seeks to extend its online dominance into physical stores.
* Apollo Global Management acquired Royal Philips' Lumileds business stake.
* Indian telecommunications carrier Reliance Communications bought a stake in Canada's Brookfield Infrastructure's mobile phone tower business for $1.6 billion.
* Cognizant Technology Solutions purchased Adaptra, an Australian insurance consulting, business transformation and IT services provider.
* Equinix acquired 24 data centre sites owned by Verizon Communications for $3.6 billion.
* Facebook's Oculus bought The Eye Tribe, a company that tracks eye movement in virtual reality to improve the experience.
* Fitbit purchased Vector Watch, a smartwatch start-up; as well as specific assets of Pebble, including key personnel and intellectual property related to software and firmware development. This acquisition excludes the company's hardware products, and the latter will be closing down following the deal.
* Gartner acquired CEB, an industry leader in providing best practice and talent management insights, for $2.6 billion.
* GE bought a 75% stake in Concept Laser of Germany, a producer of additive manufacturing machines and technology; as well as Iders, the manufacturer of GoLINC, the on-board processing, network, storage and communications platform that essentially turns a locomotive into a mobile data centre.
* Gemalto purchased 3M's identity management business for $850 million.
* GoDaddy acquired Host Europe Group, one of Europe's largest independent Web hosting firms, for $1.82 billion.
* InterDigital bought Hillcrest Labs, a sensor processing technology pioneer.
* Microsoft purchased Maluuba, a Canadian AI start-up.
* Nokia acquired Deepfield, an IP network analytics company.
* Qlik bought Idevio, a provider of geographical-related software and services and a Sweden-based Qlik partner.
* Snapchat purchased Israel's Cimagine Media, an augmented reality start-up, for $40 million.
* Square acquired certain assets of Main Line Delivery, an easy-to-use service that allows diners to place orders for delivery from popular restaurants in the Main Line region of Philadelphia.
* Teledyne Technologies bought E2V Techs, a UK-based maker of image sensors, RF generators and semiconductors, for £620 million.
* United Internet, a German ISP, purchased Strato, Deutsche Telekom's Web hosting business, for EUR600 million.
* Softbank made a $1 billion investment in OneWeb, which is building a constellation of satellites to improve global broadband access.
* Singapore's capital wealth fund GIC, NavInfo and Tencent made a 10% investment in HERE, the digital mapping company controlled by German car manufacturers, in a move designed to help them develop self-driving. Intel is also investing 15%.
* The Supreme Court sided with Samsung in its big-money smartphone patent fight with Apple, throwing out an appeals court ruling that said the former had to pay a $399 million penalty to its American rival for copying key iPhone designs.
* Symantec filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Zscaler.
* Nokia is suing Apple regarding alleged infringements of several technology patents.
* A federal court has revived a lawsuit that accuses Apple of having an illegal monopoly on iPhone apps.
* China's TCL Communication Technology Holdings will make and sell BlackBerry-branded mobile devices globally.
* Yahoo's CEO Marissa Mayer and co-founder David Filo will step down from the board after the sale of its core business is completed. The company will then change its name to Altaba, a holding company whose primary assets will be a 15% holding in Alibaba and a 35.5% stake in Yahoo Japan.
* South Korea's anti-trust regulator has fined Qualcomm $854 million for what it called unfair business practices in patent licensing and modem chip sales.
* Xerox has completed the separation of Conduent, creating two publicly listed companies.
* A joint venture between Hon Hai Precision Industry (Foxconn) and Sharp will build an $8.8 billion LCD factory in China that will be operational by 2019.
* Very good quarterly figures from TSMC.
* Good quarterly numbers from Adobe, Barracuda Networks (back in the black), Ciena, CSI, Finisar and Synnex.
* Good half-year numbers from Micro Focus.
* Satisfactory quarterly results from Accenture, Analogic, FactSet, Infosys, Methode Electronics, Paychex and Tata Consultancy Services.
* Mediocre quarterly results from Jabil Circuit, Photonics and Verifone Systems.
* Mixed quarterly figures from ARI Network Services, with revenue up but profit down; Global Payments, with revenue up but profit down; Oracle, with revenue up but profit down; Shaw Communications, with revenue up but profit down; and Volt Information Sciences, with revenue down but back in the black.
* Very poor quarterly figures from Sigma Designs.
* Quarterly losses from Avago Technologies (Broadcom), BlackBerry, Comtech Telecommunications, Coupa Software, Dell Technologies, GDS Holdings, ModusLink, Renren, SeaChange International, SecureWorks, Uber and Verint Systems.
* The appointments of Ahmed Abdulsalam Abdulrahman as CEO of Mobily; Praveen Akkiraju as CEO of Viptela; Sheih Chi-mau as president of Chunghwa Telecom; Markus Haas as CEO of Telefonica Deutschland; Peter Kaliaropoulos as CEO of Zain Saudi Arabia; Pardeep Kohli as CEO of Xura; Julie Laulis as CEO of Cable ONE; Sean Menke as president and CEO of Sabre; Park Jung-Ho as president and CEO of SK Telecom; Mehmet C Toros as CEO of Turk Telekom International; and Amit Yuran as CEO of Tenable Network Security.
* The resignations of Ron Gula, founder and chairman of Tenable Network Security; Brendan Iribe, CEO of Oculus; Michael Lynton, CEO of Sony Entertainment; and Amit Yuran, president of Dell Technologies.
* The retirement of Shih Mu-piao, president of Chunghwa Telecom.
* The departures of Jang Dong-Hyun, president and CEO of SK Telecom; Hassan Kabbani, CEO of Zain Saudi Arabia; Tom Klein, CEO of Sabre; Tom Might, CEO of Cable ONE (stays on as executive chairman); Cengiz Oztelcan, CEO of Turk Telekom International; and Philippe Tartavull, CEO of Xura.
* A planned IPO in Korea from Netmarble Games, the mobile gaming company.
* A planned IPO in London by Six Degrees, a telecoms group.
* Planned IPOs in the US from Sigfox, a French networking start-up; and Singapore's Garena Interactive Holding, the most valuable tech start-up in Southeast Asia.
* A mediocre IPO in Hong Kong by Meitu, a selfie app maker.

Research results and predictions

* Total EMEA external storage systems revenue fell 5.1% year-over-year to $1.49 billion in 3Q16, according to IDC.
* The MEA PC market finally exited the third quarter of 2016 close to flat, with year-on-year growth of 0.4% based on shipments of three million units, according to IDC.
* The MEA tablet market dropped 10.1% year-on-year in Q316, while shipments were down to 3.85 million units, according to IDC.
* The EMEA server market in Q316 reported a year-on-year decline in vendor revenue of 14.3% to $2.6 billion, and a year-on-year decrease of 7.2% in units shipped to just over 500 000, according to IDC.
* The MEA wearables market grew 38.3% year-on-year in Q316 to total approximately 487 000 units, according to IDC.
* EMEA purpose-built backup appliance vendor revenue declined 9% year-on-year to reach $195 million in Q316, according to IDC.
* According to Zambia's Central Statistics Office, its ICT sector grew by 40.2% in 2016, accounting for 1.2% of the nation's total GDP.

* There will be 51.29 million tablets shipped globally in Q416, a year-on-year decrease of 21.5%, according to Digitimes Research.
* Worldwide combined shipments of PCs, tablets, ultramobiles and mobile phones are projected to remain flat in 2017 at 2.3 billion units, according to Gartner.
* Worldwide IT spending is projected to total $3.5 trillion in 2017, a 2.7% increase from 2016, according to Gartner.
* Worldwide PC shipments totalled 72.6 million units in Q416, a 3.7% decline from Q415, according to Gartner. For 2016, PC shipments totalled 269.7 million units, a 6.2% decline from 2015.
* The overall wearables market grew 3.1% year-on-year in Q316, with shipments reaching 23 million, according to IDC.
* The total worldwide enterprise video equipment market revenue in 3Q16 was over $542 million, up from just over $505 million in 2Q16, according to IDC.
* Worldwide purpose-built backup appliance factory revenue was down 7.9% year-on-year, totalling $737.5 million in Q316, according to IDC.
* The worldwide converged systems market increased revenue 1.7% year-on-year to $2.6 billion during 3Q16, according to IDC.
* Worldwide factory revenue for the high performance computing technical server market grew by 3.9% to $2.8 billion in 3Q16, according to IDC.
* Worldwide spending on the Internet of things (IOT) was forecast to reach $737 billion in 2016, as organisations invest in the hardware, software, services and connectivity that enable the IOT, according to IDC.
* Global spending on 3D printing will experience a five-year CAGR of 22.3%, with revenue reaching $28.9 billion in 2020, according to IDC.
* One-third of enterprises worldwide are unprepared for digital transformation, according to Ovum. A survey of IT decision-makers at no fewer than 7 000 organisations, spread across 62 countries and 15 industries, found 60% consider their digital transformation either well advanced or in progress, but only 7% believe it to be complete.

Stock market changes

* JSE All share index: Up 7.2%
* FTSE100: Up 9% (an all-time high reached during this period)
* DAX: Up 10.6% (a high for 2016 reached during this time)
* NYSE (Dow): Up 3.7% (an all-time high reached during this period)
* S&P 500: Up 3.8% (an all-time high reached during this period)
* Nasdaq: Up 6.1% (an all-time high reached during this period)
* Nikkei225: Up 4.7%
* Hang Seng: Up 1.7%
* Shanghai: Down 4%

Look out for

* Huawei acquiring Israeli start-up HexaTier, whose technology secures databases in the cloud.

South Africa:
* Further news regarding the happenings at Altron, Cell C and Neotel.

Final word

Fortune magazine recently published its list of 2016's Blue Ribbon Companies, made up of 34 companies that showed up on at least four of Fortune's seven most rigorous annual rankings. Included in this list were:
* Alphabet
* Accenture
* Amazon
* Apple
* Cisco
* Facebook
* GE
* Intel
* Microsoft
* Netflix

Paul Booth

Paul Booth is an independent commentator who looks for significance in what ICT vendors haven't said.

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