Microsoft has offered to acquire Fast Search & Transfer, a Norwegian developer of enterprise search technology, for approximately $1.2 billion, Microsoft announced Tuesday. The acquisition would help Microsoft expand the information search and business intelligence capabilities of Microsoft SharePoint Server and other products.
Fast Search & Transfer's board has recommended that all shareholders approve the deal and Microsoft expects to complete the acquisition sometime during the second quarter of 2008. Fast Search & Transfer's two largest institutional shareholders that own 37 percent of the company's outstanding stock have accepted Microsoft's cash offer of 19.00 Norwegian Kroner per share, according to Microsoft.
Fast Search & Transfer's software is used within large businesses to help workers find and retrieve structured and unstructured information throughout an organization. "We believe [enterprise search] will be for workers tomorrow what Internet search is for consumers today," said Jeff Raikes, president of Microsoft's Business Division, in a conference call announcing the deal.
John Lervik, Fast Search and Transfer CEO, said on the call that the acquisition would allow his company to leverage Microsoft's vast network of ISV developers and channel partners.
Fast Search and Transfer competes with a number of information search, access and analysis software vendors, including Autonomy, Endeca, Isys Search Software, Vivisimo and Zylab. Google also competes in this space with its appliance-based product as does IBM with its Omnifind software.
Microsoft would likely integrate Fast Search & Transfer's technology with its SharePoint Server collaboration, business intelligence, portal, and content management application. But Raikes said the two companies could not provide additional details or development timetables until after the deal closes. Unlike its recent $6 billion buyout of digital advertising software vendor aQuantive and its $240 million investment in Facebook, the Fast Search & Transfer acquisition is primarily aimed at improving Microsoft's presence within enterprise software markets, said a report from Technology Business Research.
The acquisition also will provide Microsoft with additional research and development resources in Europe, Microsoft said, complementing its existing research and development teams in Cambridge, England, and Copenhagen, Denmark.
This article has been updated.