IBM gets B2B transaction firm for $1.4b

Robert Clark
25 May 2010

IBM has bought B2B transaction and firm Sterling Commerce from AT&T for approximately $1.4 billion in cash.

The Ohio-based business provides technology that automates transactions and documents exchange between companies, IBM said.

The company predicts that online transactions between customers and suppliers will triple by 2013, Craig Hayman, general manager of IBM’s Websphere software business, told the NY Times.

Sterling has more than 18,000 global customers, with more than 1 billion business interactions a year in the financial services, retail, manufacturing and other verticals.

“By acquiring Sterling Commerce technology and its large trading partner network, IBM anticipates it will be able to deliver powerful new cross-channel solutions to its clients, IBM said.

“Businesses today are operating in a highly competitive global environment in which lines between actions taking place within and outside an organization's four walls are blurring,” Hayman said.

Ray Wilkins, head of AT&T Diversified Businesses, said while Sterling Commerce complemented IBM's product suite, AT&T was focused on networking and cloud services.

“AT&T remains committed to its strategic alliance with IBM, our largest customer, to provide a unified set of telecommunications and computing services to multinational corporations across the globe,” he said.

SBC – now owned by AT&T - bought Sterling Commerce at the height of the dotcom boom in 2000 for $3.9 billion, NY Times reported.

AT&T expects to record a one-time pretax gain of approximately $750 million on the deal, which is expected to close in the second half of 2010.

Approximately 2,500 Sterling Commerce employees will be integrated into the WebSphere organization within IBM's Software Group.

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