SAP To Buy Business Objects

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The deal is the latest in a wave of consolidation that's been sweeping the business intelligence industry this year, including Oracle's $3.3 billion buyout of Hyperion in April and Cognos' pending $339 million acquisition of Applix.

Business Objects, headquartered in Paris with significant operations in San Jose, Calif., itself offers technologies from a number of acquisitions of its own, including reporting software developer Crystal Decisions, performance management software developer Cartesis and financial planning applications vendor SRC Software.

The acquisition will require approval from Business Objects' shareholders, as well as from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and a number of regulatory agencies in Europe.

In a Monday morning conference call SAP CEO Henning Kagermann said Business Objects will operate as a separate business unit and Business Objects CEO John Schwarz will stay on in that position.

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SAP and Business Objects executives said a strategic reason for the merger is to help the companies accelerate their efforts to expand sales into midsize markets -- customers with sales less than $1 billion -- through the channel. Schwarz noted that each company has nearly 3,000 channel partners targeting SMB customers, "So the combined [number of] channel partners is more than 5,000."