Welcome to my first column of 2019. As seems to be the norm over the holiday season, the international ICT market has been dominated by over 50 acquisitions or investments during the past six weeks, including several by Accenture. Dell’s listing was also in the spotlight.
At home, investments involving Naspers and MTN’s settlement in Nigeria were the main local events.
Key local news of the past six weeks
* Mixed interim numbers from PBT Group, with revenue down but back in the black.
* Very good year-end figures from Labat Africa, with revenue up 41% and profit up 173.9%.
* A mixed trading update from Sebata Holdings.
* Adapt IT Holdings acquired the Wisenet Group, which operates in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, for R53.6 million. The Wisenet Group provides a software as a service (SaaS) learning relationship management system (student life cycle management and compliance) to vocational training institutions, called Registered Training Organisations.
* Experian bought Compuscan and ScoreSharp. Compuscan is a South African-based credit bureau that provides consumer and commercial credit information within the country and other African nations. ScoreSharp is a specialist credit risk management consultancy that forms part of the Compuscan Group.
* Hero Telecoms purchased Bloemfontein-based Ntelecom, a VOIP and WISP, which offers high-speed Internet connections via both wireless and fibre.
* First Carlyle Growth V, through its wholly owned subsidiary, acquired Amecor, a company that offers a range of exclusive technologies relating to security, electronics and networks.
* Naspers and Canada’s state pension fund led a $540 million investment in Byju’s, an Indian educational technology start-up.
* Naspers made a $600 million investment in Swiggy, India’s online food delivery company.
* Global video streaming service Acorn TV made its debut. It is run by RLJ Entertainment, which is owned by AMC Networks. Besides the Web site, Acorn TV is available as an Acorn TV app on Apple TV, Android, iPhone, iPad and Roku streaming players.
* Seasoned ICT forerunner and Datacentrix CEO Ahmed Mahomed has been honoured for his leadership and wealth of experience at executive management level, receiving the coveted title of ‘Businessperson of the Year’.
* UK-based BlueFinity International has signed a distribution agreement with local ICT distributor Axiz to bring BlueFinity’s Evoke app development platform to SA and the African market.
* EY has created a strategic partnership with Motlanalo Chartered Accountants and Auditor, a 100% black women-owned audit and advisory practice.
* Micromax, a handset maker, will enter the local market via Vodafone/Vodacom.
* Naspers’ N ordinary shares are included in the initial list of equity securities on A2X, which started trading on 27 December 2018.
* Renewed JSE cautionaries by the Huge Group, Labat Africa and MTN.
* A withdrawn JSE cautionary by Stella Capital Partners.
* The appointments of Pieter Holl as CEO of The Innovation Hub; Andrew Openshaw as COO of the Huge Group; Vincent Raseroka as Group CEO of 4Sight Holdings; Ian Russell as interim chairman of Ellies; and Antonie van Rensburg as chief digital officer of 4Sight Holdings (was CEO).
* The departure of McLean Sibanda, acting CEO of The Innovation Hub.
* Satisfactory nine-month figures from Bharti Airtel East Africa units, with revenue up and back in the black.
* CDC Group, the UK’s development finance institution, made a $180 million investment in Pan-African telecoms group Liquid Telecom.
* Airtel Niger, the local wireless unit of Indian telecoms firm Bharti Airtel, has been ordered by the government of Niger to close its offices in the West African country because of a tax dispute.
* Cabo Verde Telecom has signed an agreement with EllaLink to provide direct connectivity from Europe and Latin America to the Cape Verde Islands. The EllaLink subsea cable system will be a four fibre pair submarine cable and is due to be operational by 2020.
* On-demand video streaming start-up iflix, an emerging markets rival to Netflix, has effectively pulled out of Africa after selling its business in the region to telco group Econet Global. The deal sees Econet buying the Malaysia-based iflix’s remaining stake in iflix Africa, to add to its existing significant stake in the company. The initial investment by Econet came in early in 2018, eight months after iflix first launched its service in sub-Saharan Africa in June 2017.
* The Mauritius Africa FinTech Hub has been launched, appointing Michal Szymanski, a seasoned veteran in the business incubation space, as its CEO.
* MTN Ghana has been fined $1.8 million by the country’s telecoms regulator, the National Communications Authority, over poor quality of service.* MTN Nigeria Communications and the Central Bank of Nigeria have reached an out-of-court settlement ($53 million) regarding the dispute on the alleged improper repatriation of over $8.1 billion profit from Nigeria.
* Barely two months after Teleology Holdings received approval to take over the operations of 9mobile as the preferred bidder, Teleology Holdings has expressed its dissatisfaction with the business relationship with its local partner, 9mobile Nigeria, and has decided to pull out of the 9mobile project.
* The appointment of Dion Shango as CEO of PwC Africa (was CEO of PwC SA).
* The departure of Hein Boegman, CEO of PwC Africa.
* Accenture acquired Adaptly, an ad-tech company that helps marketers buy targeted ads across online platforms, including Amazon, Google and Facebook; Enaxis Consulting, a firm with deep experience in digital capabilities, data science and agile project delivery; and Knowledgent, a data intelligence company.
* Amazon bought CloudEndure, an Israeli cloud computing firm.
* Apple purchased UK-based Artists and Repertoire, and creative services company Platoon.
* Avnet acquired Softweb Solutions, a privately held software and artificial intelligence (AI) company that delivers innovative software solutions for Internet of things (IOT) applications and systems designed to increase efficiency, speed time to market, and help businesses transform.
* Cisco Systems bought Luxera, an optical chip technology company, for $660 million.
* Cognizant purchased Mustache, a privately held creative content agency.
* DXC Technology acquired Luxoft, a software development company, for $2 billion.
* Google bought DORA, a digital transformation and DevOps research firm; and a start-up named Superpod, which built an app allowing users to post questions and receive answers from experts quickly.
* HCL Technologies purchased certain software products from IBM, including Appscan for secure application development, BigFix for secure device management, Unica for marketing automation, Commerce for omni-channel e-commerce, Portal for digital experience, Notes & Domino for e-mail and low-code rapid application development, and Connections for work-stream collaboration. The deal was worth $1.8 billion.
Twitter has been accused of violating a messaging technology patent owned by Rainey Circuit.
* Kaseya acquired IT Glue, a company that works in IT documentation.
* NEC bought KMD, Denmark’s largest IT company, for $1.23 billion.
* Silver Lake purchased a majority stake in General Electric digital unit’s ServiceMax, a cloud-based provider of software used in inventory and workforce management.
* TIBCO Software acquired French data management company Orchestra Networks, in a move that will bolster its ability to help clients organise customer data.
* Verisk bought Rulebook, an industry-leading provider of business intelligence and software solutions for the London insurance market.
* BMW, Microsoft and others made a $200 million investment in start-up Graphcore, a UK-based firm that designs semiconductors for AI applications.
* The following patent and lawsuit activity:
* Qualcomm has won a preliminary order from a Chinese court banning the importation and sale of several Apple iPhone models in China that the court found violated two of Qualcomm’s patents.
* Washington DC attorney general Karl Racine is suing Facebook for what he says is the social media giant’s failure to protect the privacy of its users and deception about who has access to user data coming out of last year’s Cambridge Analytica scandal.
* Twitter has been accused of violating a messaging technology patent owned by Rainey Circuit, a Texas patent holding company.
* Huawei Technologies has filed a lawsuit against InterDigital in China, alleging the US technology firm had not licensed its intellectual property on fair terms.
* Accenture has formed a strategic alliance with and acquired Select Professional Services Assets from Zafin, a financial software firm.
* Dell has returned to public markets, thus becoming a publicly listed company on the NYSE, without undergoing an IPO.
* General Electric has sold most of its stake in Pivotal Software and now holds only 7%.
* The annual re-ranking of the NASDAQ-100 Index, comprising the 100 largest non-financial stocks listed on the NASDAQ Stock Market, was announced. From a technology viewpoint, AMD, NetApp and VeriSign joined the index and Seagate Technology and Vodafone left the index.
* Excellent quarterly results from Guidewire Software (back in the black).
* Very good quarterly figures from Comtech Telecommunications (back in the black) and Smart Global Holdings.
* Good quarterly numbers from Adobe, Broadcom, D&H, Jabil Circuit, Micron Technology, Photronics, Synopsys and TCS.
* Satisfactory quarterly results from Accenture, BlackBerry (back in the black), FactSet Research, Paychex, SAIC, Synnex and Verint.
* Mixed quarterly figures from Ciena, Methode Electronics and Red Hat, with revenue up but net income down; and from Avaya, Oracle and VOXX International, with revenue down but net income up.
* Quarterly losses from CalAmp, Cloudera, Coupa Software, DocuSign, Domo, Finisar, HPE, IDT, Marvell Technology Group, MongoDB, Okta, Pivotal, SeaChange International, SecureWorks, Smartsheet, Volt Information Sciences and Zscaler.
* Half-year losses from Carphone Warehouse and Gridsum.
* A full-year loss from BSNL (India).
* The appointments of Tim Archer as CEO of Lam Research; Bant Breen as CEO of Harte Hanks; Ursula Burns as CEO of Veon; Anton Chilton as CEO of QAD; Christian Mauad Gebara as CEO of Telefonica Brasil; Filip JL Gyd’e as CEO of CTG; SY Hsu and Samson Hu as co-CEOs of Asustek Computer; Aleksandr Komarov as CEO of Kyivstar in the Ukraine; Yatish Mehrotra as CEO of cloud telephony firm Knowlarity; Denis O’Brien as interim CEO of Digicel; Mike Parrottino as CEO of LinkRunner; Pierre Poignant as CEO of Lazada Group; David Rowland as interim CEO of Accenture; Patrick Tillieux as CEO of OSN; and Tom Tisko as CEO of BullsEye Telecom.
* The resignations of Martin Anstice, CEO of Lam Research; and Jerry Shen, CEO of Asustek Computer.
* The retirement of Arthur Crumlish, CEO of CTG.
* The departures of Pierre Naterme, CEO of Accenture; Lucy Peng, CEO of Lazada Group (remains executive chairman); and Yang Weidong, president of Youku.
* The death of Alex Matuschka von Greiffenclau, CEO of Digicel.
* Planned IPOs from Afiniti, a US software firm; Pinterest, the online image-search company; and Slack, the workplace messaging company.
* IPO filings in the USA from Lyft and Uber, both ride-hailing companies.
* A satisfactory IPO in Hong Kong from Softbank’s Japanese telecoms unit.
* A good IPO in Hong Kong from Chinese telecoms software firm AsiaInfo Technologies.
* A good IPO on the NYSE by Tencent Music Entertainment Group, the largest online music entertainment platform in China.
Research results and predictions
* According to IDC:
* The META personal computing devices (PCD) market, which is made up of desktops, notebooks, workstations and tablets, will slump to its lowest levels in a decade next year. IDC forecasts overall PCD shipments for the region of 19.6 million units in 2019, the lowest total since 16.5 million units were shipped in 2009.
* The North Africa mobile phone market, which comprises Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco, saw year-on-year shipment growth of 11.5% in Q318. Overall shipments for the quarter totalled 8.2 million units, with the growth primarily being driven by rising demand for feature phones across each of the region’s country markets.
* The EMEA server market reported a year-over-year increase in vendor revenue of 24.5% to $4 billion, and a year-over-year increase of 2.9% in units shipped to 551 000.
* Shipments of wearable devices in EMEA grew 55% year over year to 6.6 million units in Q318. Basic wearables, including wristbands, grew 48% year over year to represent 55.5% of the market. Smart wearables, including smartwatches, increased 65% from the same period last year.
* The integrated systems market in EMEA showed significant growth in 3Q18, reporting $873 million in user value, with year-on-year growth of 20.1%.
* According to IDC:
* Global shipments of wearable devices reached 32 million units in Q318, up 21.7% from the previous year.
* Worldwide spending on robotics systems and drones will total $115.7 billion in 2019, an increase of 17.6% over 2018. By 2022, IDC expects this spending will reach $210.3 billion, with a CAGR of 20.2%.
* Unit shipments for the global personal computing devices market, comprising traditional PCs (made up of desktops, notebooks and workstations) and tablets, was expected to decline 3.9% in 2018. This contraction is expected to continue throughout the forecast period, as the market further shrinks to 378.3 million units shipped in 2022, with a CAGR of -1.8%.
* Vendor revenue in the worldwide server market increased 37.7%, year over year to $23.4 billion during 3Q18. Worldwide server shipments increased 18.3% year over year to 3.2 million units in 3Q18.
* Worldwide smartphone shipments are expected to decline by 3% in 2018 before returning to low single-digit growth in 2019 and through 2022.
* Vendor revenue in the worldwide enterprise storage systems market increased 19.4% year over year to $14 billion during 3Q18. Total capacity shipments were up 57.3% year over year to 113.9 exabytes during the quarter.
* Worldwide spending on IOT is forecast to reach $745 billion in 2019, an increase of 15.4% over the $646 billion spent in 2018. IOT spending will maintain a double-digit annual growth rate throughout the 2017-2022 forecast period and surpass the $1 trillion mark in 2022.
* JSE All share index: Up 5.9%
* FTSE100: Down 0.9%
* DAX: Down 3.3%
* NYSE (Dow): Down 6%
* S&P 500: Down 5.9%
* Nasdaq: Down 4.9%
* Nikkei225: Down 7.9%
* Hang Seng: Up 0.1%
* Shanghai: Down 1.3%
* A possible IPO in the US by SA-founded Clickatell.
* Private equity firm Thoma Bravo buying security software company McAfee from TPG Capital and Intel.
* Chinese conglomerate HNA Group selling Ingram Micro to private equity firm Apollo Global Management. HNA is seeking $7.5 billion.
* US president Donald Trump signing an executive order that would bar US companies from using telecoms equipment made by China’s Huawei and ZTE.
* South Africa:
* Telkom SA making a bid for Cell C.
Inc magazine recently published its list of ’50 World-Changing Start-ups to Watch in 2019′. The list includes:
* 3: Bankity, a front-end digital banking app that allows users to track their expenses and thus better understand their finances.
* 6: CalypsoAI, a stealth Los Angeles-based company focused on solving AI cyber security issues.
* 15: Doorport, the provider of a capability that turns your smartphone into an intercom and a key for your building. Its flagship product, called Arrive, also lets you generate access codes for package deliveries and streams video to your phone, so you can see your visitors in real-time.
* 16: Doppler, a San Francisco software maker (not to be confused with the now defunct earbuds maker Doppler Labs) that claims its platform will help development teams shave eight or more hours from a project by remembering passwords for them.
* 34: NuID, a firm that creates and uses cryptography tools and blockchain technology to eliminate the need for businesses to store passwords and other authentication credentials.