European software stocks leap on HP's Autonomy bid

LONDON Fri Aug 19, 2011 11:08am EDT

1 of 2. HP CEO Leo Apotheker speaks to the press after delivering the keynote address at the HP Summit in San Francisco, California March 14, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Stephen Lam

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LONDON (Reuters) - Shares in European software makers jumped in a falling market on Friday on hopes they were more likely bid targets after Hewlett-Packard's $11.7 billion bid for British enterprise search-software maker Autonomy.

Swiss banking software maker Temenos' shares rose 4.7 percent in early trading, Germany's Software AG rose 2.5 percent and British IT company Micro Focus rose 0.9 percent.

Rajeev Bhal, software analyst at British financial services firm Matrix Group, said he saw Micro Focus and Temenos as likely targets but not Software AG or British accounting software maker Sage, which he saw as "red herrings."

"We continue to see Micro Focus (BUY, 420p TP) as a likely bid candidate given multiple approaches already in place and the attractive valuation," he wrote.

"Temenos has a strong product and routinely tops industry league tables for new customer wins, and has demonstrated in the past its ability to recover from setbacks."

HP said late on Thursday it was in talks to buy Autonomy and to spin off its personal computer business, the world's largest, beginning a reinvention of itself as a higher-margin, software-focused business.

Shares in Autonomy itself leapt 75 percent to a 10-year high of 2,500 pence, below HP's bid of 2,550 pence per share, which represents a premium of 79 percent to Thursday's closing price. Autonomy has recommended the bid.

Shares in British chip designer ARM, which like Autonomy is part of a technology cluster in the English university town of Cambridge, also rose 2.9 percent.

(Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Andrew Callus)

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