Traffic World: Acquisitions penetrate logistics technology sector


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Traffic World: Acquisitions penetrate logistics technology sector 

For some logistics technology companies, good tidings may have come too late, says Traffic World (26 March 2002)

be turning a corner but for some logistics technology companies good tidings may have come too late. Tough times have led to consolidation in the market. Several companies have announced acquisitions in recent weeks, including PeopleSoft, Vastera and Air2Web.

International trade logistics software company Vastera completed its acquisition of Imanet, a provider of such software in Canada. Imanet customers include Emery Worldwide, Kodak of Canada, Uti and Nippon Express. The addition of Imanet to Vastera's TradeSphere solution and the company's recent acquisition of Prisma in Mexico gives Vastera "a closed-loop system to deliver significant savings to our clients operating in North America," said Mark Ferrer, president and CEO of Vastera.

Imanet will give Vastera support for Canada-specific functionality, such as the ability to electronically submit information to the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency through its Accelerated Commercial Release Operations Support System. Imanet is also the first software provider to undergo testing with the Canadian government for the Customs Self Assessment programme, which gives approved Canadian importers a streamlined accounting and payment process for all imported goods.

Dulles, Virginia-based Vastera began operating in Canada last March. The company runs Ford Motor Co's Canadian global trade operations out of its hub in Toronto. Imanet is based in Windsor, Ontario.

Enterprise and supply-chain software provider Peoplesoft also is expanding its technology base through the purchase of intellectual property and certain assets of San Jose, California-based Calico Commerce for approximately $5m in cash. Calico provides interactive selling software for companies offering complex products or services.

PeopleSoft will combine Calico's product configurator with its own customer-relationship management and supply-chain management solutions. The combination will enable customers to reduce the cost of designing and maintaining complex product configurations, said a spokesperson. "With this purchase, PeopleSoft will be the first enterprise applications provider to offer a comprehensive product-configuration solution for both the sales and manufacturing processes," said the spokesperson.

The deal initially was announced in mid-December when Calico filed for reorganisation under Chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy Code. As part of the sale, PeopleSoft acquired 40 of Calico's employees, leaving five to conclude the company's bankruptcy proceedings and other administrative matters.

Consolidation also is occurring in the wireless market. Wireless platform provider Air2Web closed its acquisition of 2Roam, another wireless platform provider. Air2Web acquired 2Roam's wireless solution and its customer base, including such customers as eBay, Best Western International and Hoover's.

2Roam co-founder and Chairman Bryan Wargo joined Air2Web as vice president of strategic accounts.

2Roam shareholders Lightspeed Venture Partners, On the Horizon(AT)Ventures, the affiliated venture-capital arm of CMGI, and Siemens Venture Capital will become shareholders of Air2Web. Hardware for the 2Roam platform has been relocated physically to where the Air2Web platform is housed. The 2Roam Catalyst Server will be integrated with Air2Web's Mobile Internet Platform, creating a single platform for mobile applications. Integration is expected to take a year.

"The acquisition of 2Roam is definitely a key milestone for Air2Web, further positioning them as one of the leading wireless platform providers in the industry," said Scott Ellison, program director, wireless and mobile communications for IDC, an analyst company.

Other logistics technology areas also are feeling a crunch. Electronic payment and fuel management company EFS Transportation Services is acquiring TransCore's Commercial Services Viastar Direct product. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Viastar is a fleet management software suite. Services include fuel and cash management systems, regulatory services, driver compliance, equipment titling and payroll. Viastar customers will have access to EFS's electronic payment and fuel management software solutions and will continue to have access to TransCore's regulatory and compliance services, said Marc Cameron, COO of TransCore's Commercial Services.

"TransCore's Viastar Direct product will integrate with EFS Transportation Services to cement our leadership in the fuel and cash management markets," said Ryan Ramey, senior vice-president of EFS. TransCore Commercial Services is based in Beaverton, Oregon. EFS Transportation Services is a subsidiary of Concord EFS, an electronic processing company. EFS has fuel, fleet, driver and payroll management services for trucking companies, as well as credit-card authorisation and settlement services for retailers, said a spokesperson.

Other supply-chain software vendors also are not recession proof. Supply-chain decision-management software provider PowerMarket acquired ATMA Software of Palo Alto, California, while supply-chain network and logistics technology company New Breed acquired estyle.com's warehousing and fulfilment operation in Ontario, California.

ATMA creates direct materials sourcing and supplier-performance management software for manufacturing companies. "Adding ATMA's solution to PowerMarket's existing suite of supply-chain decision management solutions increases the scope and value of our offerings to our customers," said Jeffrey Crow, PowerMarket CEO. PowerMarket is based in Belmont, California. New Breed provides supply-chain management, physical fulfilment and distribution, e-fulfilment and application hosting and information services. Estyle.com's 200,000-sq-ft distribution centre will be part of New Breed's 50 distribution centres across the US. Estyle.com is an online retailer of maternity clothing, nursery furnishings, baby gear, children's clothes and toys. In addition, New Breed will be providing warehousing and fulfilment services to estyle.com.

New Breed also recently opened a 100,000-sq-ft warehouse space to handle warehousing and distribution for ProcureNet, a company that provides e-procurement services for the US government, and to house operations currently in place with Siemens Medical Solutions USA. New Breed is handling expedited distribution of vehicle parts for the US military throughout the South and Southeast.

And eNgenuity Technologies, a provider of Internet-enabled collaborative engineering tools, acquired an additional 35% of Xtend not previously owned by the company. Xtend is also a collaborative software vendor. ENgenuity initially bought 65% of Xtend in September 2000. "As part of its corporate reorganisation announced in December 2001, the company had reached an agreement in principle, now finalised, to acquire the remaining 35%," said a spokesperson for eNgenuity. Under the agreement, eNgenuity acquired the remaining ownership in Xtend for 400,000 shares of common eNgenuity stock.

Source: Traffic World.

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