IBM has bought B2B transaction and firm Sterling Commerce from AT&T for approximately $1.4 billion (€1.1 billion) in cash, as it looks to tap into rapid growth in online transactions over the next three years.
The firm will use Sterling’s capabilities to offer businesses automated communications with customers, partners and suppliers, through public and private cloud computing environments.
Craig Hayman, general manager of IBM’s Websphere software business, told the New York Times the market for online transactions between customers and suppliers will triple by 2013.
“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.
IBM plans to help its customers “build dynamic business networks,” he said, adding. “The fact that much of this can be done in the cloud will make it compelling to large numbers of our customers."
Sterling provides technology that automates transactions and document exchange between companies, handling 1 billion business interactions for 18,000 customers globally in markets including financial services, retail, manufacturing and other verticals.
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, NYT 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.