Experts mourn the passing of the 'best of British software' with proposed deal


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The proposed takeover of the UK's largest software company yesterday had experts bemoaning the demise of the "last of the great independents".

Anthony Miller, the managing director of TechMarketView and a 35-year veteran of the IT markets, said: "The message is RIP for the best of British software. Where is the next significant UK-based global IT player going to come from?" He continued: "The implications of the deal will ripple through the UK market for some time to come."

Mr Miller hailed the expertise available in Britain. "We have brilliant talent here," he said. "There is a lively IT market; unfortunately not much of it is owned by UK companies."

Peter O'Donoghue, the head of the UK technology team at Deloitte, was more optimistic. He said: "It would be lovely if the UK had technology giants but that doesn't change the fundamentals of the market. The UK is a very vibrant place for technology; we're still creating."

He added that some domestic start-ups were performing strongly and looking at buying opportunities abroad themselves.

TechMarketView's fear over the Autonomy deal is there will be an "immediate shift of headquarter functions across the Pond", adding: "How long will it take before R&D goes with it?"

One source close to the proposed takeover tried to dispel those fears. He said the move would bring a "wealth of knowledge flooding into" Autonomy's home town of Cambridge. "This will help develop the UK's knowledge and expertise as well."

The source added that the offer was a "phenomenal endorsement of the UK's technology industry", adding: "Autonomy will be at the centre of this HP [Hewlett-Packard] business."

Yet Richard Holway, TechMarketView's chairman, was more downbeat. "I can write the book on what happens when US companies take over UK software houses. There are no happy endings."