UNICOM Acquires Macro 4, Sees i OS Synergy with SoftLanding Tools
January 26, 2009 Alex Woodie
Earlier this month, UNICOM Systems announced the acquisition of Macro 4, a British developer of utilities and systems management tools for mainframe, System i, and Unix platforms. While the System z was Macro 4’s forte, UNICOM has put a surprising focus on its i OS offerings. Together with SoftLanding’s i OS change management offerings, UNICOM says it will have a “one stop shop” for enterprise computing customers, whether they run i OS, mainframe, or open systems.
In the two and a half years since CICS tool vendor UNICOM shocked the market with its acquisition of i OS change management vendor SoftLanding Systems, the midrange has heard very little out of the UNICOM/SoftLanding company. Rumors of layoffs and maintenance fee increases began circulating, calls and e-mails from reporters went unanswered, and the SoftLanding Website entered a state of suspended animation. Then, suddenly, out of the blue, the SoftLanding Website is updated with a big announcement: “UNICOM Systems Acquires Macro 4 PLC, Take Business to the Next Level!!!” the January 9 announcement reads, with nary a hint of exclaimed understatement. Immediately, the transaction netted UNICOM a mix of various utilities, aimed primarily at mainframe shops, but also companies that run System i, Windows, Unix, and Linux. It also expanded the reach of the Mission Hills, California, software company into Europe . . . and beyond!
UNICOM’s press release made no mention of the price or terms of the deal. But Macro 4, as a publicly traded company, was required to make a disclosure. A series of documents in the investors section of the Macro 4 Website provide some insight into the transaction and Macro 4’s business.
The value of the deal was put at £27 million, or about $37 million at current exchange rates, which is not exactly accurate because the deal was accepted by Macro 4’s board on December 5, and dollar-pound exchange rates have been all over the board since then. That figure also doesn’t include the 16 percent of outstanding Macro 4 shares that UNICOM already held. The deal price is slightly less than the £29 million Macro 4 brought in during its fiscal year ended June 30 and a 39 percent premium over the December 4 closing price of Macro 4’s stock, which was traded on the London Stock Exchange. The offer was contingent on 90 percent of Macro 4 shareholders selling at the price of 145 pence per share, which went through.
Macro 4 will continue along its “chosen strategic path,” according to a statement issued by the companies. “Macro 4 will continue to operate from its UK base and maintain its worldwide operations,” the statement reads. “UNICOM intends to retain Macro 4’s customer support, marketing, product development, and other operations at its principal U.K. site in Crawley and other U.K. centres. Existing Macro 4 customers are expected to continue to receive the highest level of service and support, with the additional benefit of UNICOM’s own product range available.” Macro 4 employs about 230 people and has operations in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, and the United States, according to its filings.
Macro 4 chairman Patrick Gallagher sounded confident that the company is in capable hands with UNICOM. “It is my belief that the merger of UNICOM and Macro 4 will be beneficial for both Macro 4 employees and customers and that the combined company, under the leadership of Corry Hong, has a bright future,” he stated in a Macro 4 filing.
Hong, the CEO and president of UNICOM, focused on the similarities of the companies. “UNICOM was looking for a company that, like UNICOM, offers products that service IBM zOS, CICS/Transaction Server, AS/400, iSeries and open systems products and services. We believe that Macro 4 is a strong fit with UNICOM,” he says.
Macro 4’s System i tools were highlighted in UNICOM’s January 9 press release. “Macro 4’s i OS suite of products will be bolstered by i OS products available via SoftLanding Systems,” Hong stated. “The combined offerings of UNICOM-SoftLanding-Macro 4 under one roof, will give us the ability to serve the needs of our customers in unprecedented ways. Our continued goal is to be a one-stop shop for all enterprise software needs, whether they be on the mainframe, iSeries, or open systems.”
While one would not typically associate Macro 4 as a System i tool vendor–and indeed, we have no coverage of Macro 4 on the IT Jungle Website because Macro 4 never talked to us about them–the company, in fact, has a series of systems management, performance tuning, and printing applications designed for the operating system that today is called simply i 6.1. Macro 4 has seven or eight i5/OS offerings. These products, along with hyperlinks to Macro 4 product info pages, follow: