Microsoft offers $1.2 billion to acquire Fast

Microsoft today announced plans to offer $1.2 billion to takeover enterprise search player Fast Search & Transfer (Fast).

The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of this year, subject to shareholder approval. Terms and conditions of the bid, in addition to other details, are expected to be sent to shareholders next week.

"Enterprise search is becoming an indispensable tool to businesses of all sizes, helping people find, use and share critical business information quickly," said Jeff Raikes, president of Microsoft's business division. "Until now organisations have been forced to choose between powerful, high-end search technologies or more mainstream, infrastructure solutions. The combination of Microsoft and Fast gives customers a new choice: a single vendor with solutions that span the full range of customer needs."

Successful acquisition of the Norwegian company will bolster Microsoft's European research and development (R&D) presence and complement its existing productivity portfolio and enables businesses to get more value out of enterprise search capabilities.

Some often voice concern when big players swallow up the little guys. Fast, however, is optimistic and enthused about what becoming part of the software giant has to offer, according to chief executive John Lervik.

"This acquisition gives Fast an exciting way to spread our cutting-edge search technologies and innovations to more and more organisations across the world," he said.

"By joining Microsoft, we can benefit from the momentum behind the SharePoint business productivity platform to really empower a broader set of users through Microsoft's strong sales and marketing network. It validates Fast's momentum and leadership in enterprise search."

Microsoft's acquisition offer - despite coming just a few months after the company updated its enterprise search product range - isn't surprising, according to Mike Davis, senior analyst at Ovum.

"This is a really good buy for Microsoft, putting it straight into the top league," he said. "It is certain to make other large vendors look at the acquisition of high-end solution providers rather than develop their own. Of course, the big prize will be Autonomy, which is still endeavouring to demonstrate the strength of its independence."

Maggie Holland

Maggie has been a journalist since 1999, starting her career as an editorial assistant on then-weekly magazine Computing, before working her way up to senior reporter level. In 2006, just weeks before ITPro was launched, Maggie joined Dennis Publishing as a reporter. Having worked her way up to editor of ITPro, she was appointed group editor of CloudPro and ITPro in April 2012. She became the editorial director and took responsibility for ChannelPro, in 2016.

Her areas of particular interest, aside from cloud, include management and C-level issues, the business value of technology, green and environmental issues and careers to name but a few.