Cloud computing: IBM buys Red Hat for $34b

International Business Machines Corp has acquired software company Red Hat Inc, for USD 34 billion as it looks to ramp up its cloud computing business.

It is the company’s biggest acquisition in its more than 100-year history.

Ginni Rometty, IBM chief executive since 2012, has steered the company toward faster-growing segments such as cloud, software and services and away from traditional hardware products, but not without a bumpy journey. The newer areas of focus have sometimes underwhelmed investors.

In an interview, Rometty said the deal was driven by what its customers wanted and helping companies “move mission-critical work” to the cloud, offering a variety of hybrid public and private clouds. “We have all the critical parts,” she said.

Customers want hybrid cloud applications because they “look at their IT and they say, ‘Look I can’t just throw it all out and rebuild it’” and instead want a mix of public and private cloud applications “with one platform across it.”

Rometty cited as examples major IBM cloud customers like Morgan Stanley and Delta Air Lines.

The company, which won approval for the purchase from US regulators in May and European Union regulators in late June, agreed to pay USD 190 a share for Red Hat, representing a 63 per cent premium.

Founded in 1993, Red Hat specialises in Linux operating systems, the most popular type of open-source software and an alternative to proprietary software made by Microsoft Corp. IBM has faced years of revenue declines as it transitions from its legacy computer hardware business into new technology products and services.

Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst and his management team will remain in place. Whitehurst will join IBM’s senior management team and report to Rometty.

IBM will maintain Red Hat’s headquarters in Raleigh, North Carolina, and its facilities, brands and practices, and said it will operate as a distinct unit within IBM. Rometty said no job or cost cuts are planned at Red Hat.

IBM closed down 0.9 per cent at USD 139.33.

The companies said IBM and Red Hat will offer “a next-generation hybrid multi-cloud platform” that will be “based on open source technologies, such as Linux and Kubernetes.”

IBM’s cloud strategy has focussed on helping companies stitch together multiple cloud platforms rather than compete head-on with “hyperscale” cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services, a unit of Inc; Microsoft; and Alphabet Inc’s Google.

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