EarningsDassault Systèmes announced today that it has signed a definitive merger agreement with Accelrys, the provider of scientific innovation lifecycle management (aka SILM) software for chemistry, biology and materials. Under the agreement, DS will make an all-cash offer of $12.50 per share for Accelrys’ outstanding shares, summing out to roughly $750 million. Given that Accelrys was trading at $9.72 at the close yesterday, for a market cap of $542 million, this is a pretty significant bonus — a clear sign of how strategic DS views this addition.

This combination makes so much sense, adding Accelrys’ molecular chemistry capabilities into DS’ offering for formulation-based industries like oil and gas, food and beverage, and life sciences — but also has significant impact on its more traditional industries. Think polymers in auto and aero, coatings in just about everything, and new materials development changing the face of cell phones and everyday objects.

DS CEO Bernard Charlès said in the press release announcing the deal that DS and Accelrys “share the same passion for enabling scientific innovation and are confident that together, leveraging the great Accelrys assets, we will deliver a unique and unmatched scientific PLM solution.”

I like that: “scientific PLM solutions.” I’ve spoken to many scientists at world-leading companies in some of the industries mentioned above who don’t currently connect into anything approaching PLM –you can see the presentation I gave at last year’s PI Congress for much more on this– and stand to benefit hugely from its implementation. That said, these scientists are often rugged individualitists in a publish-or-perish world; they don’t collaborate the way that engineers do. It’ll be interesting to see how DS addresses these new customers.

DS’ press release lists a few of Accelrys’ 2,000 customers, and you’ll recognize some from the DS customer list — but it’s likely that Accelrys sold into the labs or formulation parts of the business while DS sold into engineering, manufacturing or packaging. DS’ release highlights “major industry players in pharma/biotech, consumer packaged goods and chemical including Sanofi, Pfizer, GSK, AstraZeneca, Du Pont, Shell, BASF, P&G, Unilever and L’Oréal.”

What do we know about Accelrys? A lot, since it’s publicly traded. For its third quarter ended in September, the company reported non-GAAP revenue of $44 million, up 2% year/year.  In fiscal 2012, Accelrys reported total revenue of $163 million, up 13% as a result of organic growth and a significant acquisition program. In 2012, Accelrys reported a net loss of $10.4 million; it’s got a choppy track record with respect to profitability but did report a net profit of $5.8 million for the first three quarters of 2013. Wall Street analysts seem to be modeling a positive net income for fiscal 2013.

Historically, Accelrys sold chemical modeling software (think FEA, but with molecules and chemical reactions). In recent years, it’s added lab notebook software, lab information management (what chemicals do we have to have for a particular reaction), and the like via acquisition but still targeted at research teams. In 2012 and 2013, acquisitions expanded the offering into quality assurance and control, process manufacturing and compliance reporting.

DS expects the acquisition to close during Q2, pending the usual regulatory approvals and closing conditions.There’s a conference call at 10AM Eastern, and I’ll update if there’s something new to share.

This is exciting. I work with process industry companies who are baffled by the PLM message. By combining with Accelrys and its lab pedigree, DS just upped its game. A lot.

UPDATE: The conference call held at 10AM Eastern was interesting, but didn’t really offer anything new. We’ll have to wait for Accelry’s SEC filings to get the details, but it does sound as though one reason for the nice 4x revenue multiple is that Accelrys had other suitors. According to Accelrys CEO Max Carnecchia, “it was a disciplined process … we created a valuable company and DS wasn’t the only one with vision”. Hmm. Juicy intrigue in the world of PLM!