Informix Buys Ardent

Database vendor Informix Corp. is buying extraction, transformation, and loading (ETL) vendor Ardent Software for about $880 million in stock.

The deal combines two companies with deep roots in data warehousing that are working to reposition themselves as infrastructure providers for online business.

Informix (www.informix.com) was among the top companies in database revenue, but has been fading in market share over the last few years. Around the end of 1998, Informix bought another major data warehouse company, Red Brick Technologies Inc., and began realigning its offerings around Internet commerce.

Ardent (www.ardentsoftware.com) sells both ETL tools for building data warehouses and offers an object-oriented database. Ardent recently unveiled an e-business infrastructure strategy, as well.

Informix president and CEO Jean-Yves Dexmier put the Ardent acquisition in the same context of other recent moves by Informix: releasing an Internet database, Informix Internet Foundation.2000; acquiring embedded Java database vendor, Cloudscape; releasing the i.Reach and i.Sell Web solutions; and the limited release of a digital asset management solution called Media360.

"This transaction also represents a significant step in Informix’s transformation to a provider of open, database-independent solutions," Dexmier says. "Ardent’s components and solutions will continue to be marketed independently of the underlying database technology."

Analyst Wayne Eckerson, a senior consultant with Patricia Seybold Group (www.psgroup.com), calls the pending acquisition a good move for Informix. "It fills a lot of holes in Informix’s business intelligence strategy and has potential for use in its e-business strategy as well," Eckerson says.

In concrete terms, the deal gives Informix an ETL component for data warehousing and business intelligence solutions and the metadata strategy Ardent bought when it acquired Dovetail, Eckerson explains. "There is some merit to Ardent being used for e-business, but that’s yet to be proven because right now it’s kind of unidirectional data movement transformation software," Eckerson says.

The directors for both companies unanimously approved the deal. It will be handled as an exchange of 3.5 shares of Informix common stock for each outstanding Ardent share. The deal is subject to stockholder and regulatory approval and is expected to close this quarter.

The companies say the transaction would create a $1 billion company in "open software infrastructure for the i.Economy." Informix had about $735 million in revenue in 1998; Ardent’s 1998 revenue was about $119 million.