LONG BEACH, CA (UGS annual user meeting), April 23, 2007 -- UGS assured the 2,100 assembled here that the acquisition of UGS by Siemens was a positive turn of events for both companies. That was expected.
The $3.5 billion UGS/Siemens deal was announced earlier this year (see press release) and should close "within 30 days." UGS has been bouncing around the last few years. It was once part of McDonnell Douglas, then owned by EDS, then bought by some private equity firms, then sold to Siemens.
Perhaps its all old hat to UGS CEO Tony Affuso, who has led UGS through the multiple changes of ownership. He declined to attend the user meeting but did send a pre-recorded video. I was told he was in Germany, where Siemens is headquartered.
I did a little research into Siemens after the acquisition was announced. It is the electronics giant of Germany. But most of the news was not good. According to a November story in Deutch Welle, Siemens Scandal May Involve Top Executives, police searched the CEO's office and are holding several employees in "investigative custody" after a bribery/corruption scandal.
I'm sure that was not what Affuso was referring to when he said the two companies shared a common corporate culture.
While a CAD insider would expect the usual assurances such as the ones given at this users meeting, I doubt if any users would jump ship just because another company now owns its CAD vendor. Besides, UGS has already shown that it can work well while owned by a big manufacturing company (McDonnell Douglas). Still, one can expect rivals will still try to use the acquisition to introduce fear and uncertainty to the minds of sales prospects.
Siemens is a $120 billion company, one hundred times the size of UGS, which grew to $1.2 billion in FY06. Will it be swallowed up and not heard from again, kind of like when Microsoft bought Visio? Siemens' Tilo Brandis, President of the Electronics Assembly Division, says that is not a real concern, as Siemens is itself composed of over 50 divisions already. UGS would be one of its sizeable divisions. Chuck Grindstaff, EVP of UGS, says UGS has always operated foremost as a CAD company --regardless of ownership.
Siemens was a "top 20" customer for UGS before the acquisition. Siemens uses other CAD products, too, such as Pro/E, CATIA and AutoCAD. Are there any plans of making UGS a standard? "We'll look at it," says Brandis. Brandis indicates that Siemens will be content to show that NX can work alongside its competitors in a multi-CAD environment.
Truly, using a manufacturing compnay as big as Siemens as a real world laboratory for interoperability would be an asset. On the other hand, I expect every UGS rival to gloat publicly about every maintenance renewal or new seat at Siemens.