Micro Focus Becomes Britain’s Biggest Tech Firm, amid Wobbling Fortunes

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British software firm Micro Focus has become the UK’s largest tech company, as its takeover deal with Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s software business is finalized. The $8.8 billion reverse-takeover, first announced on September 1 2016, values the Newbury, Berkshire-based company at almost twice that of the country’s current biggest tech outfit, Sage, which has a market capitalization of $9.85bn.

Yet the closing of the deal comes amid mixed fortunes for Micro Focus, which largely supplies the finance and retail sectors. Last week sales of the $8.7bn HP wing it is purchasing were reported down, spooking would-be investors.

Earlier this month markets reacted badly to news that companies are beginning to drop Cobol, a 58-year-old programming language that is at the center of Micro Focus’ model of supporting aged legacy systems. Rapid software turnover, and the falling price of hardware, has led some to believe Micro Focus could see its market share carved.

Micro Focus will also take on what remains of Autonomy, a British software firm purchased by HP in 2011, as part of today’s deal. The $11.1bn deal is ranked among the worst in regional history. But while Autonomy has seen its assets denuded and sold off, Micro Focus has been on a recent M&A spree: the $1.245-revenue company acquired Oregon-headquartered Serene Software for $540m last year, and Seattle’s Attachmate in 2014.