Deals for Dealers

Geac gets a lifeline, Novell spins off content business, and more.
Joseph RadiganFebruary 5, 2001

IBM’s Test Drive

IBM is expanding its automotive B2B service,, to let auto dealers lease software over the Internet. Initially, the service will target 22,000 U.S. dealers. After the program is launched domestically, it will be extended to another 28,000 dealers overseas.

IBM also announced a messaging and process integration technology for its B2B service that enables dealers, automakers, suppliers, and service providers link their business processes and applications. Both announcements were made Friday at the National Automobile Dealers Association Convention in Las Vegas.

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Auto dealers can use the IBM service to send financial statements to car makers and receive marketing and sales leads generated by consumer inquiries over the Web. They can alsoe request parts and price quotes from suppliers.

Microsoft is also looking for a new set of wheels. The company’s MSN Carpoint Web site signed an agreement with American Isuzu Motors Inc. to license DealerPoint, its customer relationship management tool, to Isuzu’s dealers. Carpoint will supply a customized version of the software, called Dealer Link.

New Lease on Life

Geac Computer of Toronto said its lenders have extended its deadline for paying its loans to Feb. 15. On Thursday, the company paid $12 million, leaving it with a $48 million balance on its credit line.

Geac is Canada’s largest software firm, but it has been hit hard by slumping demand for its financial administration, human resources, and enterprise resource planning applications. Reuters reported on Thursday that in September the company said it was open to takeover bids and would cut 12 percent of its staff, or 500 jobs, as part of a restructuring to slash roughly $40 million in annual expenses.

Content Acceleration

Novell Inc. said on Friday it is carving out its existing caching and content networking division and creating a new company called Volera. The company will sell products and services that help accelerate the distribution of multimedia content, such as video clips and music, on the Internet.

Telecommunications equipment supplier Nortel Networks and Accenture, formerly known as Andersen Consulting, will be minority shareholders in the company. The firms will provide Volera with more than $80 million in cash and consulting services.

According to Reuters, Novell CFO Dennis Raney said in a conference call that Volera’s products and staff will come mostly out of Novell’s Net Content Services division, which would have brought in about $30 million in sales for its October 2001 fiscal year. The company is also setting aside $60 million this year to create Volera.

Novell’s strongest product has always been its NetWare networking operating system, and the company saw its emphasis on this segment as a hindrance in running an effective sales effort for its Internet content management business.

Bits and Bytes

  • Sun Microsystems will buy privately held LSC Inc., an Eagan, Minn., data storage software firm. Under the terms of the agreement, Sun will acquire LSC in a stock-for- stock transaction worth approximately $74 million. The acquisition will be accounted for as a purchase and in-process research and development charges are expected to be immaterial. Sun expects the combined results of LSC and its existing storage business to be accretive to pro forma earnings.
  • Microsoft is stepping up its anti-piracy efforts. The company will apply its Product Activation anti-piracy technology and edge-to- edge anti-counterfeiting hologram to upcoming versions of its products, including Microsoft Office, Windows, and the Visio drawing and diagramming software. Product Activation discourages casual copying by limiting the number of times a product can be installed and activated on individual computers.

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