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EXCLUSIVE: Sigma Lines Up Ontology Acquisition

Ray Le Maistre
5/11/2016

NICE, France -- TM Forum Live! -- Having benefited from its previous acquisition of Tribold in 2013, OSS/BSS specialist Sigma Systems is closing in on the acquisition of Ontology Systems , a company that specializes in gathering accurate information from networks, Light Reading has learned on the show floor here in Nice.

Sigma Systems , which develops and sells a range of OSS and BSS systems to fixed, mobile and cable operators, saw its business ramp up following the acquisition of Tribold in 2013: According to Rick Mallon, VP of marketing and alliances at Sigma, the company increased its revenues by 26% in 2014 and by 33% in 2015, to a total of about $85 million, following years of flat sales. Tribold had developed a product and service catalog platform, which manages the different building blocks CSPs need to build new services, and now Sigma's deals almost always include a component of its (now enhanced) catalog platform. (See Sigma Systems Snaps Up Tribold.)

Now Toronto-based Sigma, led by CEO Tim Spencer, is seeking further acquisitions to boost its portfolio and growth potential, and according to information sourced by Light Reading here in Nice is in late-stage talks with privately held Ontology, which has developed a system based on semantic search capabilities that is designed to deliver an accurate view of network resources to operations teams.

Mallon admitted that Sigma had been tracking a number of potential acquisition targets, with the backing and support of its new majority owner Birch Hill Equity Partners, but did not confirm that a deal was being brokered to acquire Ontology.

Ontology's CEO Benedict Enweani, when asked by Light Reading if the London-based company was about to be acquired by Sigma, said "not necessarily." He went on to say that Ontology has been striking significant deals with major operator groups recently and has helped Telekom Malaysia develop a new network discovery and data gathering system that runs on a single server.

The company also boasts BT, Telenor, Vodafone and a number of other operators as customers.

Light Reading believes the negotiations are advanced but not yet concluded.

Ontology was formed in 2006. Its investors are Celtic House Venture partners and Eden Ventures, though it's not clear how much Ontology has raised from these backers during the past ten or so years. It was identified as a Service Provider IT company to watch in 2015. (See 10 SPIT Vendors to Watch in 2015.)

The OSS and BSS systems sector (including systems integration) has witnessed a steady stream of M&A activity during the past two years as vendors, aware of the unprecedented changes happening in the comms networking market, bulk up to gain new capabilities and improve their economies of scale. (See Nokia Snaps Up Nakina, Ericsson Acquires Systems Integrator , NetScout: We Won't Be a House of Brands, Huawei Buys Rump of Irish SDN, NFV Specialist and Amdocs Splashes $272M on Comverse's BSS.)

— Ray Le Maistre, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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Ray@LR
[email protected]
5/11/2016 | 10:18:18 AM
Word on the 'rue'....
The informed opinion is that this would be a good fit culturally as well as from a product/tech perspective.

And word on the street --or rather, on ' la rue' as we're in France -- is that Sigma has another target in its sights...

 
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