BEA Picks Plumtree for $200M

Middleware vendor BEA Systems acquired corporate portal specialist Plumtree for $200 million in cash, officials said Monday.

The deal, which will pay Plumtree investors $5.50 per share, is subject to approvals by Plumtree shareholders and government regulators as well as closing conditions. The deal is expected to close in the Fall.

After the merger is completed, BEA will create a new product unit within the company which will sell both the Plumtree Portal and BEA WebLogic Portal Server as well as an integrated product down the road. Officials said there are no plans to discontinue either product line.

Plumtree made an attractive acquisition target because of the portal’s ability to function in both .NET and J2EE environments, the only such portal offering that can make that claim, officials said.

While the two companies develop very complementary portal products, company officials say they each go after much different customers. For this reason, they don’t expect to cannibalize each other’s customer base and have no plans to phase out any product line as a result of the acquisition.

“The Plumtree offering has been designed from day one for business users with a very clean, intuitive set of tools designed for non-technical business users,” said Mark Carges, BEA CTO and executive vice president. “In fact there may not be any application developers in the organization; the types of people who build on the Plumtree product line typically would not even call themselves developers.”

BEA’s portal, WebLogic Portal 8.1, is based on J2EE and provides a full framework and lifecycle management tool for developers to create portal interfaces. It’s used for business-critical applications and high-transaction environments.

The acquisition underscores the San Jose, Calif.-based company’s new strategy for enterprise computing, called Think Liquid. The new strategy is based, in part, on BEA’s difficulty in providing WebLogic with the interoperability needed to run a service-oriented architecture (SOA ) in an enterprise setting.

Plumtree, able to run in both .NET and Java environments with ease, fits this new “openness” awareness, as Alfred Chuang, BEA CEO, calls the idea behind Think Liquid.

It makes sense to pick Plumtree for an acquisition, Chuang said, because it strengthens its fastest-growing product in the company portfolio.

Both companies have long-standing ties with each other. In November 2003 BEA and Plumtree were two of four companies working together to create an open source portlet developer site for .NET and Java developers.

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