Saturday, August 14, 2010

IBM to Buy Unica for $480 Million to Gain Software


International Business Machines Corp., the world’s largest computer-services provider, agreed to buy Unica Corp. for about $480 million to gain technology that lets customers build more targeted marketing campaigns.

Unica shareholders will get $21 a share in cash, Armonk, New York-based IBM said today in a statement. That’s more than double the stock’s closing price yesterday.

IBM Chief Executive Officer Sam Palmisano said this year he is planning to spend about $20 billion on acquisitions in the next five years. The software unit, IBM’s most profitable, will make up about half of its earnings in 2015, the company said in May. The unit has made about 60 acquisitions since 2003.

Unica, based in Waltham, Massachusetts, makes software that helps organizations analyze and predict customer preferences, helping their marketing efforts.

“Done well, marketing becomes less of an annoyance and more of a service,” Craig Hayman, general manager of IBM’s Industry Solutions unit, said in an interview.

Unica has 500 workers and its customers include EBay Inc. and Best Buy Co. It helped ING Groep NV customize its marketing across websites and branch offices to appeal to individual preferences, said Yuchun Lee, chief executive officer of Unica.

“We help make sure the messages are personalized and relevant,” said Lee.

IBM said it expects to close the deal in the fourth quarter.