Mumbai: Microsoft Corporation, the world's largest software company, has offered to acquire Norwegian business search software company Fast Search & Transfer in a deal worth $1.2 billion.
Microsoft offered to pay a 42 per cent premium for Fast that lets companies sift through their own internal corporate documents, data and other information.
Fast focuses on helping companies manage their own files, and has also set up a search engine for companies to help consumers navigate their web site easily.
Fast said its board unanimously recommended that shareholders accept the Microsoft offer, which values the fully diluted equity of Fast at 6.6 billion Norwegian crowns, or about $1.2 billion.
Major shareholders of Fast, including two institutional investors - Norway's Orkla and Hermes Focus Asset Management Europe - which together hold 37 per cent of the company's stock, have agreed to accept the offer.
The entry of large technology players like Google, International Business Machines Corp and Microsoft into corporate, or enterprise search market, has led to a flurry of acquisitions in recent times.
Fast, whose clients include Dell Inc and Walt Disney Co., posted a third-quarter loss of more than $100 million on revenue of nearly $36 million.
Microsoft expects the transaction to be completed in the second quarter of 2008. The deal, however, is subject to regulatory approval and acceptance from shareholders with more than 90 per cent of Fast's shares.