Courting deals

Just how often is legal discovery a form of M&A due diligence? We asked ourselves that question on July 2 when IBM shelled out an undisclosed amount of money for Platform Solutions (PSI) after the two companies had battled each other in the courtroom since late 2006. Big Blue’s initial suit alleged patent infringement, while PSI’s countersuit raised questions of antitrust concerns.

Of course, we would never suggest that Big Blue simply bought off PSI, using its vast cash reserves to quiet a critic. And even if that was IBM’s motivation, we can hardly fault the company for determining that money spent to move its mainframe business ahead through acquisition has a higher potential ROI than just writing checks to lawyers.

With that case closed (as they say in the courtroom), we wonder if a similar scenario will play out at i2 Technologies. As we’ve noted in the past, the supply chain software vendor has run into a heap of problems, prompting it a year ago to hire JPMorgan to advise it on ‘strategic alternatives.’ One of those problems got resolved recently when SAP agreed to fork over $83m to settle a nearly two-year-old patent infringement suit. (To put i2’s legal windfall into perspective, consider that the settlement is twice as much as the company has earned in the past two years combined.) While we initially figured a buyout shop as the likely acquirer for i2, we now wonder if the settlement from SAP is merely a down payment on an acquisition of i2.

Courtroom drama

Parties Legal issue Outcome
IBM-Platform Solutions Patent infringement IBM acquires PSI, undisclosed amount
SAP-i2 Patent infringement SAP pays $83m settlement, all charges dropped

Source: The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase and SEC