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8/5/2009
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IBM Could Face Bidding War For SPSS

An analyst says Oracle, SAP, or HP may try to outbid IBM's $1.2 billion offer.

A San Francisco-based analyst, in a note Wednesday, suggests IBM's planned acquisition of business-intelligence software vendors SPSS Inc. is not a done deal.

"Conversations lead us to believe that SPSS could get another bid," said Cowen & Co.'s Peter Goldmacher in an investor's note.

Goldmacher wrote that "conversations with industry luminaries" indicate IBM's $ 1.2 billion bid for SPSS last week was a "dramatic premium" to avoid a bidding war with other interested parties, including SAP and Hewlett-Packard. But that strategy may not work.

Cowen & Co. hasn't "ruled out the possibility" that potential acquirers will come after SPSS with an unsolicited offer," Goldmacher wrote.

Goldmacher doesn't mention Oracle, but in a follow-up email, confirmed that Oracle could be a potential suitor of SPSS.

What's more, an unsolicited acquisition is far more Oracle's style than SAP's or Hewlett-Packard's. Who can forget Oracle's 18-month-long, hostile takeover of PeopleSoft, concluded in 2004 for $10.3 billion?

And Goldmacher may have some unique insight into Oracle, which is also his former employer.

Finally, in an interview withInformationWeek last week, SAP's Bill McDermott gave no indication of any interest in SPSS, but rather, seemed in support of the IBM deal, since SAP regularly partners with both IBM and SPPS.

"Because it's two friendly partners, I expect this acquisition will help the SAP relationship with SPSS," said McDermott, president and CEO of global sales at SAP. "We'll be able to consolidate two conversations into one."

Oracle declined comment about any interest in SPSS.

SAS Institute had 33% of the advanced analytics market in 2008 and SPSS had 14%. The market is highly fragmented after those two, with Microsoft coming in No. 3 at 1.7% of the market, with the advanced analytics capabilities it offers through SQL Server.

IBM, Oracle, HP, and SAP could all benefit from more predictive analytic offerings in their BI product portfolios, and all four have partnered with SPSS on customer offerings.


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