Oracle to sell off Siebel's OnTarget consultancy

OnTarget said to not be crucial to future business strategy

Oracle Corp. is to sell off the OnTarget sales consultancy it acquired through the purchase of CRM (customer relationship management) software vendor Siebel Systems Inc, the company announced Tuesday.

Oracle closed its Siebel acquisition, which valued the CRM company at around US$5.85 billion, at the end of January. The deal was first announced in September of last year.

The OnTarget operation is not core to Oracle's future business strategy, the vendor said in a release. However, Oracle claims "numerous" third parties have already expressed interest in acquiring the operation and it hopes to complete a deal this spring. Oracle referred further inquiries about the OnTarget sell-off to investment banking services provider McNamee Lawrence & Co. LLC.

Glover Lawrence, managing director and co-founder of McNamee Lawrence, confirmed that there are a number of suitors for OnTarget and that the sell-off of the business unit is on track to close later this spring. "This announcement [from Oracle] is the start of a very organized process," he said in a phone interview Tuesday.

Siebel acquired OnTarget in late 1999 for around $259 million. Siebel shifted OnTarget around a number of its business units before it finally found a home in Siebel University, the CRM vendor's training division.

Employing more than 30 staff, the OnTarget business specializes in providing sales training, consultancy and methodologies. Over the course of the company's history, dating back before the Siebel acquisition, OnTarget has dealt with more than 500 customers and trained over 100,000 salespeople, according to both Lawrence and Oracle. OnTarget focuses on the telecommunications, business services and IT industries, and high-tech customers have included Dell Inc. and IBM Corp.

The 30-plus OnTarget employees will transition over to whoever acquires the business, according to Lawrence. The purchaser will acquire the entire business unit including the OnTarget sales methodologies as well as existing customer relationships and contracts. He described the sales training and consultancy business as a "highly fragmented space, with dozens and dozens of very small shops." OnTarget stands out from the crowded field because it has trained salespeople both nationally and internationally, often in a very short time span, Lawrence said.

Oracle announced last week that it will cut 2,000 jobs as it continues to integrate Siebel into its operations. However, the bulk of the layoffs are to hit Oracle staff, not former Siebel employees, the company said.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.