Monday, March 28, 2005

SunGard's $10.4 Billion Deal Places Financial Content Technology in Spotlight

Bloomberg News reports on the largest private takeover of a company since Kohlberg Kravis's $31 billion purchase of RJR Nabisco Inc. in 1989. But instead of ponying up to milk a consumer company the consortium of buyers lead by Silver Lake Partners, Goldman Sachs Capital Partners and other leading financiers are taking under their wing the most widely successful content technology company in the financial sector. SunGard has been a regular acquirer of content technology companies themselves through the years, so to some degree this is a deal in theory not unlike someone sweeping up a portfolio of leading financial content technology companies in one fell swoop. At about 2.9 times revenues that sounds like a pretty good basket buy, a lot more reasonable than some other newsworthy acquisitions. While much of the coverage in the trade press and general media on financial content centers around companies such as Bloomberg, Thomson and Reuters, it's SunGard that's gained the greatest integration into major investment banks in recent years by concentrating on not just desktop trading functionality and availability services but 'straight-through' trade processing functionality and other key back office and mid-office processing needs. It's a heavily I.T.-based approach but one that fits in very well with the increasingly complex requirements of financial companies needing to track and manage both internal and external content sources cost-effectively. As in other areas of the content industry it's increasingly hard for mainstream content companies to catch up with leading technology companies who have tackled a wider range of sector-specific content management issues internal to their clients than most of them are comfortable managing. If I'm one of the "Big Three" content vendors I'm a little worried that there's more acquisitions that this consortium may be considering to provide additional content-oriented services to draw the "sell side" of finance closer to the "buy side".
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