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SunGard Plans Two-Pronged Reference Data Foray Based on Acquisition of Fame Information Services

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SunGard’s agreement to acquire Fame Information Services, announced this month, will initiate an aggressive, two-pronged foray into the reference data management business. Not only will SunGard use Fame to standardize the handling of historical and reference data among its many operating units and product lines, but it will also promote Fame’s ReferencePoint solution as an enterprisewide reference data management platform.

SunGard announced its agreement in early December. Terms of the cash deal weren’t disclosed. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of next year. The majority shareholder was long-time investor Warburg Pincus, which with Steve Silberstein originally spun Fame off from Citibank back in 1993.

Fame will be integrated – if that’s the right term for any SunGard acquisition – into the SunGard Market Data Services group, headed by John Hyde. Within the group, it joins two sister operating units: PowerPartner, the former ADP quote terminal business until recently headed by Rick Snape; and Tradeline, a provider of historical and analytical data.

Included in the acquisition will be Fame’s product line – ReferencePoint, in particular – the energy business originally marketed under the Saladin badge, clients and staff. Not included is the energy training unit – known as the Princeton Energy Program – which was never fully integrated into the Fame product line.

According to Hyde, SunGard began looking at whether to build or buy a data management capability such as Fame’s about a year ago. It had realized that its various risk management, trading, investment management and securities processing business units were substantial consumers of reference data. As it moved to bring these components of straight-through-processing together, it needed to bring reference data capability in-house, rather than leave individual units to cope on their own.

In the final analysis, Hyde says, SunGard decided that buying an established capability would allow it to take advantage of the opportunity more quickly. SunGard embarked on a due diligence process on several vendors in the reference data management space, Hyde says, taking into account each company’s respective technologies, capabilities and, of course, their receptiveness to SunGard’s advances. Fame, Hyde says, emerged as the most competitive package and SunGard moved quickly to do the deal. He declines to identify other vendors evaluated by SunGard.

Hyde says SunGard plans to take a two-dimensional approach to implementing Fame. First, it will adopt ReferencePoint as the standard means of interfacing with historical and reference data across all existing product lines, and will promote ReferencePoint to existing clients of those products. Second, it will market ReferencePoint as a reference and historical pricing data management platform in its own right. Hyde says the system can be marketed to both existing and new clients as the central platform for creating the ‘golden copy’ data repository and distributing it to downstream applications.

SunGard’s clout

Corporately, Fame will continue to be run by Dale Richards, president, in line with SunGard’s philosophy of managed entrepreneurship. The approach is designed to allow operating units to benefit from the economies and clout of SunGard as a publicly listed corporation, while retaining the nimbleness of a small business. Richards says his role will be to continue to manage Fame as an independent business – with responsibility for P&L – while building out the integration with other SunGard units.

The core Fame system was originally developed more than 20 years ago by the University of Michigan, before being subsumed into Citibank.

Then, in 1993, IT manager Silberstein secured funding from Warburg Pincus and led a buyout of the company. After Silberstein left a few years later, Gerry Mintz, now an EVP at Reuters, briefly took over as CEO, later handing the reins to Richards.

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