SOUTH AFRICAN CLICKATELL TO SET UP SHOP IN US AFTER DEAL

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

Cape-based technology company Clickatell is moving its headquarters to California after merging with MultiMode, a company offering similar services in the US. The terms of the deal are not being disclosed, as both companies are privately owned. The merged company will trade under the Clickatell name.

Clickatell offers bulk message delivery via sms, a service used by companies that want to contact multiple customers quickly and cheaply. One recent win was a deal to provide First National Bank's InContact service to customers in Namibia to confirm transactions taking place in their bank accounts.

Clickatell has 6000 customers in 180 countries and will maintain a base in SA for research, development, sales, marketing and call centre services to support its global operations. MultiMode delivers messages to devices including cellphones and computers.

The deal will let Clickatell extend its messaging options to text, voice, e-mail, fax and pager alerts, which it will deliver to cellphones, fax machines, fixed line phones, pagers and other devices.

That wider choice would let businesses communicate more effectively with their customers wherever they were and by what- ever device they preferred, Clickatell CEO Pieter de Villiers said. So far no company was offering real-time alerts to confirm financial transactions in the US, he said.

Clickatell and MultiMode have been working together to deliver messages worldwide for software giant Oracle. SA was a leader in sms technology because a lack of internet access had made people more dependent on cellular messages, said Anton Lan, Clickatell's head of business development.

The US makes much less use of sms because its internet services are fast and often free, so there has been little need for cellular text messages.

"The US is a sleeping giant in terms of mobile messaging because its all been about e-mail. Most Americans don't use sms but when you show them they get quite excited," Lan said.

The US is an emerging market for sms technology as people usually have their cellphones on them but do not always have access to their e-mail. Tad Bogdan, co-founder of MultiMode, will head up worldwide sales for Clickatell. Forrester Research expects messaging companies to deliver 126- billion messages in the US in 2009, creating a market worth $8,6bn.

Business Day