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VNU Net: SCO sells Unix to Linux vendor [Caldera]

Aug 02, 2000, 18:20 (1 Talkback[s])

By Ian Lynch, VNU Net

Caldera Systems has acquired Santa Cruz Operation's (SCO's) server division in a deal that leaves the veteran Unix firm facing an uncertain future and Unix in Caldera's hands.

SCO's server software and professional services divisions has been bought for 17.54 million shares (28 per cent of the company) plus $7m cash. Caldera's morning share price of around $7 makes the deal worth $130m, although the pair claim it is worth nearer $300m. Stock in both companies has been in free fall in recent months.

Caldera will run the OpenServer Unix-on-Intel operating system, which generated just $11.1m revenue in the third quarter of fiscal 2000, as a separate unit through new holding company Caldera Inc. It will offer what it bills as the industry's first comprehensive open internet platform, combining Linux and Unix server solutions.

Ransom Love, president and chief executive at Caldera, stressed in a statement that the new firm will support both Linux and Unix industries and communities and offer support, training and professional services.

However, under the terms of the deal, SCO, after expenses, will receive around 55 per cent of future OpenServer revenues plus an $18m loan from one of Caldera's major investors, The Canopy group.

SCO last week reported a third quarter loss of $19.24m, three times that expected, and appears to be haemorrhaging cash. It said it will use the new funds to invest in its Tarantella software, which it retains along with its Unix intellectual property rights. Last week, the firm revealed that Tarentella revenues amounted to just $2.5m in the third quarter.

Doug Michels, SCO chief executive, will join the Caldera Inc board, and fellow senior executives Jim Wilt and David McCrabb will also take positions at the new company. Ray Andersen may possibly join at a later date.

SCO's price has fallen from over $31 to under $4 since the start of the year, and it has being denying analysts' predictions of a gloomy future since 1998. Caldera shares have fallen from a top price of $33 in April to $7.

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