Microsoft is bolstering its enterprise search with an offer to buy Norway’s Fast Search & Transfer ASA in a cash deal valued at 6.6 billion Norwegian kroner ($1.2 billion). The deal is aimed at increasing functionality in Microsoft’s business software, as well as acting as a beachhead for Redmond in the enterprise search market, where IBM, Oracle and even consumer search giant Google already have products.
The board of directors and shareholders representing 37 percent of Fast have already accepted the offer, which represents a 42 percent premium to Fast’s share price before the deal was announced. The transaction is expected to close by June.
Microsoft (MSFT) has a corporate search function as part of its Office SharePoint Server, but neither it nor other enterprise software vendors have a market-leading product for storing and finding internal documents and information on a corporate network.
With much of that information housed on Microsoft products, a tight integration between Microsoft’s products and Fast might be a competitive advantage that keeps Google’s enterprise search forever on the outside. Of course, if Microsoft integrates the products too well, it may yet again raise the ire of regulators.