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Microsoft to Buy FAST for $1.2B

Microsoft has practically sewn up a deal to buy Fast Search & Transfer (FAST), an 11-year-old data classification and search engine provider based in Norway.

Redmond will pay up to $1.2 billion in cash for the outstanding shares of FAST, which is publicly traded on the Oslo Stock Exchange under the symbol FAST. The search company's two largest institutional shareholders, who control 37 percent of outstanding shares, have approved the transaction. It is expected to close in the second calendar quarter of 2008.

FAST's search technology underlies a range of enterprise Web search engines. It is part of CommVault's Simpana software for back-end storage and is incorporated in Microsoft's Windows Marketplace. FAST's hundreds of partners include storage OEMs such as EMC (Avamar and Centera platforms) and Permabit.

FAST competes with offerings from Google and Autonomy, as well as with smaller search and classification firms such as Index Engines. The company also entered the business intelligence market early in 2007.

FAST's solutions are definitely high end and customized, with average license fees ranging from $300,000 to $600,000; additional services ranging from $20,000 to $200,000; and maintenance fees starting at $60,000 annually.

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