CSC: No comment is the safest

I was rather surprised yesterday to see an e-mail from Ogilvy PR pitching an interview with Dave Booth, the Chairman President of Global Sales and Marketing at Computer Sciences Corp, only a couple of hours after Xerox announced its $6.4 billion planned purchase of Affiliated Computer Services.

After all, CSC — an IT services company that competes with ACS, and has a market value of $8.1 billion — was the first company that came to bankers’ and analysts’ minds when I asked them who else could be in play, as tech companies look to buy into new growth opportunities.

Given how market sentiment works, any comments from the chief senior executive of a potential acquisition target like CSC could easily move the stock. As a rule, that’s why, companies typically don’t comment on rumor or speculation about themselves. So naturally, an on-the-record interview with the CSC chairman executive wasn’t something I could pass up.

The e-mail offered:

…(T)he opportunity to hear comments from Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC). As you might know, CSC is a marketplace contrarian that can offer a POV on the other side of the coin – staying independent.
CSC anticipates greater interest from those clients that value the objectivity of a technology-independent approach. With one less independent firm in the marketplace, CSC’s position is strengthened as a global, technology-independent option for clients.

I let Ogilvy know of my interest, and waited, and followed up, and waited. By the late afternoon, I figured the pitch was too good to be true because CSC had thought the better of it. Sure enough, the e-mail that eventually turned up in my inbox, said: “CSC now prefers not to comment.”

from Breakingviews:

Tech services deals count on more with less

Xerox button

The U.S. computer services industry is back in favor, after a decade of struggling to cut costs and compete with offshore firms from India and elsewhere. At least that would be the obvious conclusion to draw from a recent string of multibillion-dollar deals.

Xerox has agreed to buy Affiliated Computer Services for $6.4 billion while Dell is paying $3.9 billion for Perot Systems. They are picking up where Hewlett-Packard left off when it paid $13.9 billion to buy Electronic Data Systems in 2008.

But what's driving these deals is not a bet on the improving growth prospects of the services industry. Instead, the buyers value computer services companies more as sales pipelines for their own products.