The largest US regional-telephone company, SBC Communications, will acquire ebusiness specialist Sterling Commerce in an all-cash deal valued at $3.9bn.
SBC, which owns such companies as Ameritech and Pacific Bell, said the purchase of Sterling Commerce will help accelerate its ecommerce offerings. Sterling said it would gain a massive customer base and top brand recognition.
SBC is offering $44.25 for each Sterling share, a 40 per cent premium to Sterling's closing price on Friday. The offer, which starts in the next few days, is expected to close in March or during the second quarter, according to the company.
Sterling Commerce specialises in creating, powering and managing secure e-marketplace communities. The company, which has been profitable in three out of the past four years, had $561m revenue for 1999. Sterling Commerce, which employs 2,300, will operate as a separate subsidiary within SBC's Global Markets group.
SBC's global interests include a 19.6 per cent direct stake and a 27.9 per cent indirect interest in NetCom GSM through Tele Danmark; a 17.5 percent stake in Belgacom SA; and a 15 percent equity stake in a joint venture known as Cegetel, which is positioning itself as the primary competitor to France Telecom.
Edward Whitacre, chairman and CEO of SBC, said: "This instantly gives SBC the skillsets, software, products and services needed to take the lead in one of the most rapidly growing segments of the ecommerce market. Sterling Commerce's highly skilled information technology teams will also help us in the future as we continue to capitalise on internet driven opportunities."
According to IDC, the B2B ecommerce industry is expected to grow from $200bn in 2000 to $2.5 trillion in 2004.
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