July 29, 2003 4:00 AM PDT

Actuate buys into merger mania

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Actuate announced plans Tuesday to acquire privately held Nimble Technology for an undisclosed sum, the latest in a flurry of acquisitions in the business software market.

San Francisco-based Actuate sells so-called business intelligence software, which helps corporations analyze their operations by generating reports from corporate data, such as recent sales results. Nimble is one of a handful of companies that has developed software that can search across several databases and collate the results of a query.

The acquisition of Seattle, Wash.-based Nimble will accelerate Actuate's development schedule for data-integration software, said Nobby Akiha, Actuate's vice president for marketing. The company will incorporate Nimble's XML-based integration software into Actuate's server software, he said.

Actuate plans to stop selling Nimble's software as a stand-alone product that competes with IBM Information Integrator and BEA Systems Liquid Data products.

The company's purchase of Nimble comes after an active two weeks for acquisitions among business-intelligence software providers, a market that analysts say is ripe for consolidation.

Business Objects announced on July 18 that it would buy rival Crystal Decisions for $820 million. A few days later, Hyperion said it agreed to buy Brio Software for $142 million. Other companies vying for business-intelligence dollars include SAS Institute, Microsoft and Cognos, which itself purchased another company called Adaytum for $161 million last December.

Actuate declined to disclose the purchase price, but the deal is expected to be much smaller than other recent acquisitions by its competitors. Nimble has just over 30 employees. Actuate posted $109 million in revenue and a net loss of $25 million last year.

Actuate's Akiha said that the Nimble acquisition reflects the company's focus on building its report-generating server software, rather than front-end tools for viewing and constructing business reports.


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