Siemens weighs acquisition of software developer Bentley Systems

Bentley develops software to help manage engineering projects within the infrastructure and construction industries

FILE PHOTO: The Siemens logo is seen on a building in Siemensstadt in Berlin, Germany, October 31, 2018. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke/File Photo

Siemens is weighing an acquisition of Bentley Systems, according to people familiar with the matter, in what would mark a fresh push into industrial-software dealmaking by Europe’s largest engineering firm.

Bentley, if purchased, would become part of Siemens’s digital industries division, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. No final decisions have been made and a deal could still fail to materialise, the people said.

A spokesperson for Siemens declined to comment. A representative for Bentley did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Siemens shares rose as much as 1.6 per cent to €117.60 (Dh510.38) in intraday trading Monday.

Bentley, based in Exton, Pennsylvania, develops software to help manage engineering projects, particularly in the infrastructure and construction industries. The company has more than 3,500 employees and generates $700 million (Dh2.5 billion) in annual revenue, according to its website.

Siemens already holds a 14 per cent stake in Bentley, according to one of the people. The companies entered into a strategic alliance to develop commercial initiatives in 2016 and renewed the pact two years later, saying at the time that €100m ($118m) had been pledged to the venture.

The purchase would mark the beginning of Siemens’s push into software under incoming chief executive Roland Busch. He is scheduled to take over in February from Joe Kaeser, who will leave Siemens a transformed company that bears little resemblance to the one he took over in 2013.

Under Mr Kaeser, Siemens focused on software applications that are crucial to run its industrial equipment and in 2016 paid $4.5bn to purchase Mentor Graphics, Bloomberg News reported at the time. Following the Mentor Graphics deal, Siemens planned to pause growing its industrial-software business through large takeovers.

Siemens saw profit rise 8 per cent in its third quarter as the company dealt with the coronavirus crisis better than expected. Results were boosted by strong performance from the software business, where profit surged 62 per cent in part thanks to the valuation of its stake in Bentley.

There has been a flurry of industrial software deals in the last month as the world’s biggest machine makers push into digital production. Aveva Group agreed to buy SoftBank Group - backed Osisoft for $5bn and Emerson Electric said it would acquire Open Systems International for $1.6bn.