Last month, we hosted a survey on which company Oracle might acquire next. If you missed it, be sure to check out the results in our post, “Oracle Mergers & Acquisitions: Who’s Next?” We had a great turnout with over 1,250 industry experts sharing their predictions. Among the more substantiated claims was the prediction that a global systems integrator like Capgemini could be a logical fit for Oracle. Now that Mark Hurd has joined their executive team, we think it’s all the more likely that Oracle will make a major acquisition in the IT services market.
By acquiring the consulting arm of PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2002, IBM solidified its dominance over the global technology services industry. Hurd’s acquisition of EDS in 2008 was seen as a direct assault on IBM Global Services, making HP the strongest contender for IBM’s throne. Now, Hurd is essentially competing against himself, facing not only IBM but also the very beast that he created, HP Enterprise Services. Can he achieve for Oracle what he has already achieved for HP?
If so, Hurd will have more than one option to choose from. Capgemini has a relatively low P/E, and its recent acquisition of a majority stake in CPM Braxis, a leader in Brazilian IT services, makes it an even tastier morsel. However, there are many other fish in the services sea, so we’ve decided to look at several other services providers as well. Which of these do you think Oracle should go after? Leave us a comment below.
Indian IT: Just to Name a Few
For the past two decades, India has been a major player in the global IT services market. A number of highly successful Indian companies emerged during the Y2K boom, and a few of them have grown to become multi-billion dollar businesses. Three particularly well-regarded companies are:
Infosys – A company that started out with $250 and grew to become a $5 billion global consulting and IT services provider. Last year, it became a member of the Global Dow, which suggests a strong global influence that might be appealing to Oracle.
Tata – Initially responsible for providing computer services to its more established sister company Tata Steel, Tata Consultancy Services is now the largest IT services provider in Asia. Throughout the last decade, Tata completed a series of well-placed global acquisitions that helped the company gain entry into major markets around the world.
Wipro – Emerging in the 1980s from what was once a vegetable products factory, Wipro is now a major competitors in IT services and consulting. In recent months, Wipro and Oracle have collaborated quite frequently, as Wipro has drawn upon its history in factory production to develop solutions with Oracle for the manufacturing industry.
However, forming a relationship with one of these companies may bring more problems for Oracle than solutions. Over the past several weeks, many of these Indian IT companies have been fighting against new U.S. government regulations that will add thousands of dollars in new fees. Now, any company with more than half their U.S. workforce on visas will be forced to pay these fees, and spokespeople from Infosys and Wipro have already announced that this legislation could have a significant impact on their operating margin. This is just one example of the many unique issues Oracle would face if they go after one of these overseas companies.
Some Homegrown Alternatives
There are also plenty of American options, some of which match the global influence of the aforementioned Indian companies while offering much smaller pills for Oracle to swallow. Whereas the previous three Indian companies have P/E ratios of 23x-30x, two of the following three American services providers come a little cheaper.
Accenture – This consultancy serves 96 of the Fortune Global 100 companies, making it the kind of global player Ellison and Hurd will need to compete with IBM and HP. However, Accenture is more than just IT services; its management consultancy arm is responsible for much of its success. Would Oracle want to acquire elements that it may not need? With a $27 billion market cap and a 16x P/E, Accenture is certainly well within reach.
Unisys – This Pennsylvania company would be an even easier target for Oracle. The company’s revenue has declined in recent years alongside the proprietary mainframe systems market that once made it successful. When equipment sales took a hit, the company’s market cap fell precipitously, forcing them to shift their focus to services. With revenue under $5 billion and a meager 5x P/E, Unisys may be too small to frighten IBM and HP.
Cognizant – In contrast, Cognizant has been one of Fortune’s 100 Fastest Growing Companies for seven years. Their performance is frequently praised, and their revenue grew 16% in 2009. At this rate, Cognizant will strengthen its value and become an increasingly pricey acquisition. With a 32x P/E, time is running out for Oracle to bring this proven commodity into its fold and mount a serious campaign against its competitors.