IBM buys marketing software firm Unica

IBM said today that it will buy marketing software and web analytics firm Unica for approximately $480 million.

The acquisition is aimed at expanding IBM’s business software sector, adding additional ways to automate and manage marketing and sales. It is part of a cluster of recent acquisitions, including that of Sterling Commerce and Coremetrics, designed to enhance IBM’s standing in the marketing software field.

“Unica was a clear choice for IBM based on its power to automate a broad set of marketing capabilities and its established reputation for delivering customer success in marketing to organizations around the world,” said Craig Hayman, general manager of IBM Industry Solutions.

IBM believes that the acquisition of Unica will provide it with “sophisticated analytics” and an improvement to its marketing process. Together they plan to streamline and integrate relationship marketing, online marketing and marketing operations for their clients.

Unica has 500 employees, all of whom will join IBM’s Software Solutions Group. Its 1,500 customers, including Best Buy, eBay, ING, Monster, Starwood, and US Cellular, will join IBM’s current customer base.

The cash deal will see Unica shareholders receive $21 per share and is subject to standard sharehold and regulatory approval. It is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2010.