Tech titans power ahead with acquisitions despite nasty week on Wall Street

2 Oct 2008

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Despite the drubbing on Wall Street this week, a number of major technology firms have shaken off the fear paralysis caused by the current economic doom and gloom, and have bravely gone ahead with strategic acquisitions.

Texan global games retailer Gamestop has revealed that it is spending US$700m to acquire French game retail chain Micromania. The deal, which needs European Union approval, is expected to close in November.

t emerged yesterday that the world’s biggest tech firm HP is to acquire storage virtualisation player LeftHand Networks for US$360m in cash. LeftHand Networks delivers scalable storage software on industry-standard hardware that supports existing technology environments.

“Customers need a faster, less complex and more economical route to storage networking to better protect their critical business data,” said Dave Roberson, senior vice-president and general manager, StorageWorks Division, HP. “The acquisition of LeftHand Networks significantly expands our storage portfolio, enabling HP to deliver customers an expanded suite of storage functionality, scalable capacity and interconnect options for every budget and performance requirement.

Business software giant Oracle entered into an agreement to acquire Advanced Visual Technology (AVT), a leading provider of 3D visual macro space planning software for retailers.

Duncan Angove, senior vice-president and general manager, Oracle Retail explained: “The combination of Oracle and AVT will create an industry-leading macro space management solution that will maximise profitability through better allocation of selling space.

“This will help enable retailers to gain rapid and profitable return on investment from every inch of store space, and help Oracle further realise its vision for insight-driven retailing.”

It has been rumoured that Fujitsu is in talks to sell its hard-drive business to Western Digital. The plan would see Fujitsu sell all its plants in Japan, Thailand and the Philippines for over US$1.5bn.

On the investment front, heavy hitters like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Salesforce.com’s Marc Benioff have contributed to a US$3m Series A investment in a New York-based doctor appointment booking web service called ZocDoc.

California-based solar thermal equipment maker Ausra raised US$60.6m from an international group of investors including KERN Partners, Starfish Ventures and Generation Investment Management, which is chaired by Al Gore.

Meanwhile, it emerged that the major film studios Disney, Paramount, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal Pictures and Lion’s Gate are to collectively invest US$1bn in rolling out digital projectors across North America.

Earlier this week, the global economic pessimism hit tech confidence and major Silicon Valley firms such as Microsoft, HP and IBM saw their share prices take a hit.

The biggest shock came on Monday with Apple stock falling almost 20pc, raising fears over consumer spending this Christmas. Apple set a new 52-week low during Monday’s trading session when it reached US$100.59. Over this period, the share price is down 30.1pc.

By John Kennedy

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com