Acquisitions a mixed blessing, analysts claim

Analysts claim that the sales of JD Edwards and Baan have altered the enterprise landscape, providing a more viable supply base...

Analysts claim that the sales of JD Edwards and Baan this week have altered the enterprise landscape, providing a more viable supply base for customers but less room for negotiation on price.

JD Edwards was sold to PeopleSoft, putting the combined entity second behind SAP.

John Bermudez, an analyst at Boston-based AMR Research, suggested  Baan, which will merge with SSA Global Technologies, will perhaps become the fourth-largest ERP supplier.

"In the past two days, the leadership of the enterprise resource planning market has shifted more than it has in the past five years," Bermudez said.

Nevertheless, John Moore, an analyst at ARC Advisory Group, said these acquisitions did not represent a seismic shift in the industry. Instead, they merely reflect the market today.

"There are too many suppliers, and they are unsustainable in the market with the number of customers that are available," Moore said.

The circumstances around each of the mergers differ. JD Edwards and PeopleSoft are both stable companies which have been doing relatively well, despite the slowdown in IT spending. On the other hand, financially troubled Baan was acquired by Invensys during a buying frenzy and is just one of a number of companies to be sold off again.

The combined JD Edwards/PeopleSoft will have considerable clout in the market when the deal is completed by the end of the year, with $2.8bn in annual revenue, 13,000 employees and more than 11,000 customers in 150 countries.

For its part, Baan predicted that its newly combined company will represent $600m in revenue and 16,500 customers once that merger is complete.

"What it signals is that we'll end up with only very large players here, which is neither good nor bad," Moore said. "It's good for the customer in that they get a more viable supply base. But what is bad is that they may not have quite the same negotiation room they had in the past."

At the very least, this week's shift will be a boost to PeopleSoft, which needed "credibility in manufacturing and a critical mass of customers", said Joshua Greenbaum, an analyst at Enterprise Applications Consulting.

Marc L Songini writes for Computerworld

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