Dassault makes $750M play for Accelrys to expand into R&D software

R&D software developer Accelrys ($ACCL) has spent the four years since it merged with Symyx gobbling up a string of smaller companies. Yet this week Accelrys' management found itself at the opposite end of the deal-negotiating table and has struck a $750 million deal to sell the company.

France-based Dassault Systèmes--a company best known for its product lifecycle management (PLM) tools--is to buy Accelrys in an all cash deal worth $12.50 a share. The takeover will give Dassault molecular chemistry capabilities that it sees complementing its core business of providing software to help engineering and manufacturing teams. Dassault was willing to pay a tidy premium of 29% over Accelrys' pre-bid share price to beat other interested parties to the takeover agreement.

Over the past few years Accelrys has grown to offer electronic laboratory notebooks, laboratory information management systems, regulatory document management capabilities and other pieces of R&D software. Adding these systems will move Dassault beyond its traditional areas of focus. "Our ambition is to offer solutions in all areas of biosciences where we want to be leader," Dassault Systèmes CEO Bernard Charles told Reuters.

The deal has caused a stir in the PLM community. Engineering software market analyst Monica Schnitger described it as "huge news" in a blog post, while Jim Brown of research group Tech Clarity wrote how the deal moves Dassault deeper into scientific discovery than its PLM competitors. Both observers talked up the deal as potentially giving Dassault a set of complementary software tools. Accelrys lists AstraZeneca ($AZN), GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK), Pfizer ($PFE) and Sanofi ($SNY) as clients.

- read the Reuters article
- check out Bloomberg's take
- here's Schnitger's blog
- and Brown's post