IBM has signed a definitive letter of intent to purchase a controlling stake in Web tools supplier, Net Objects. The move is designed to block takeover bids by rivals, while securing its relationship with the company.
The decision follows Big Blue?s disappointment earlier this year, when it was on the verge of signing a licensing deal with Vermeer Technologies, which makes Web site creation tools, only to lose out at the last minute when Microsoft muscled in and took the firm over.
To prevent such a situation happening again, IBM has now taken a majority stake in Net Objects, believed to be in the region of 60 per cent with a value of $50-80 million.
But, IBM said it decided not to go for a complete takeover because it could have upset Net Objects? existing relationships with Microsoft, Oracle and Netscape.
An IBM spokeswoman said: ?The aim in taking a majority stake was that Net Objects could remain an independent company without us damaging its business. It would have been very difficult to maintain its relationships if we?d bought it up. We?ll have Mike Zisman [IBM?s Lotus executive vice president] as a representative on its board, but we won?t get involved in the day-to-day operations.?
She added that, although Big Blue had not yet defined exactly what it aimed to do with the Net Objects? Fusion tools, it did intend to integrate them with its Lotus Notes for Domino package and Kona components, its DB2 database and its Visual Age development tools.
Fusion will also be resold as a complementary offering to Domino.action, a basic Web development tool, and Domino.designer, which has yet to be released, but is a higher end, more sophisticated offering than Fusion.
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