August 19, 2011 / 1:00 PM / in 6 years

Autonomy/HP deal spotlights data deluge

LONDON (Reuters) - Hopes Hewlett-Packard’s $11.7 billion bid for Autonomy will be the first of many in the European software industry could be misplaced because Autonomy has an appeal that others cannot match.

Shares in European software makers jumped in a falling market on Friday after news of the deal.

But analysts said Autonomy has a one-off appeal through its enterprise search software, which helps companies unravel and connect vast quantities of complex and varied data like video, pictures and emails.

Investigators use it to track people it suspects of terrorism and to probe complex white-collar fraud, and information companies put it to work connecting news and data.

Other European market leaders such as SAP or Nokia offer more traditional products in slower-growing markets.

“Traditionally structured data, such as that in rows and columns generated by industry through products such as those offered by SAP and Oracle, is becoming less of a focus,” said Tim Daniels of brokerage Olivetree Securities.

“Traditional search software isn’t intelligent enough to sort through unstructured data in a speedy fashion -- it is unable to understand the contents of a video or a music track,” added technology, media and telecoms strategist Daniels.

BURGEONING DATABANKS

The amount of data in the world is doubling every two years and is expected to reach 1.8 zettabytes this year, equivalent to every global citizen having 215 million high-resolution MRI scans every day, according to IT research firm IDC.

This has created a market for so-called “big data” and high demand for hardware and especially software that can store, process and make sense of it.

HP has agreed to buy Autonomy in a strategy change that will also see it spin off its personal computer business, the world’s largest, beginning a reinvention of itself as a higher-margin, software-focused business.

Shares in companies unrelated to “big data” rose on the back of the news. Germany’s Software AG rose 1.5 percent, Swiss computer-mouse maker Logitech rose 2.9 percent and Finnish cellphone maker Nokia rose 1.9 percent.

Rajeev Bhal, software analyst at British financial services firm Matrix Group, said he saw British IT company Micro Focus and Swiss banking software maker Temenos as likely targets for specific reasons.

Micro Focus shares rose 2.4 percent on Friday, while Temenos rose 4.7 percent

“We continue to see Micro Focus (BUY, 420p TP) as a likely bid candidate given multiple approaches already in place and the attractive valuation,” Bhal wrote.

“Temenos has a strong product and routinely tops industry league tables for new customer wins, and has demonstrated in the past its ability to recover from setbacks.”

Bhal said he saw Software AG and British accounting software maker Sage, as “red herrings.”

British financial software maker Misys has also been the object of bid interest, and its shares rose 5.1 percent on Friday.

Shares in British chip designer ARM, which like Autonomy is part of a technology cluster in the English university town of Cambridge, also rose 2.9 percent.

One London-based technology banker who asked not to be named said he did not expect more multi-billion-pound technology deals to emerge in Europe on the back of the Autonomy-HP deal because of a “dearth of targets.”

“For the few potential larger deals, eyes will be on SAP and maybe ARM. Think IBM and Oracle,” he said.

But the banker added: ”SAP has been more of a consolidator, however, and ARM is expensive and independently minded.

Reporting by Victoria Howley and Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Andrew Callus

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