Altron subsidiary Bytes Technology Group is acquiring Unisys Africa, which is owned by Unisys of the US and local black empowerment company CyberKnowledge Systems Investments.
The deal remains subject to competition authority approval in SA, Botswana and Namibia. Though the value of the deal hasn’t been disclosed, it is estimated to be in the region of R500m.
Unisys has a long heritage in the computer industry and was formed when Sperry-Univac and Burroughs merged in 1986. It has had a tumultuous history that has seen it going from being a once-vast company to a far smaller player today.
Despite having lost ground in the last decade, Unisys Africa remains prominent in SA’s banking industry, particularly in the realm of cheque processing. It also has sizeable involvement in the public sector, to which Bytes has wanted to gain more exposure.
Arguably, the companies are a good fit. Both are well positioned for future deals — particularly with government — because of their black economic empowerment credentials and both have a strong presence in financial services.
Unisys Africa, while not necessarily a burden for its international parent, is not as lucrative for Unisys internationally as it once was.
Under the deal, Bytes will conclude a five-year distributor agreement allowing the latter to market, sell, and support certain Unisys products and solutions in selected sub-Saharan African countries while enjoying the status of preferred partner in certain other markets.
Bytes CEO Rob Abraham says Unisys Africa’s “long-standing relationship” with various public sector agencies will enhance the efforts of his company’s newly established government solutions division while broadening its client scope. “Its footprint will also assist our strategy of expansion into Africa,” he says.
Abraham says Unisys Africa will initially continue to operate as a standalone entity. “In time, relevant operations will be incorporated into existing, complementary Bytes operations, namely Bytes Systems Integration, Bytes Managed Solutions and Bytes Connect.” — Craig Wilson, TechCentral
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