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SOFTWARE services firm Cognizant has acquired Canada-based Active Intelligence (AI) for an undisclosed sum, as part of a strategy to deepen its consulting expertise in the retail vertical.

Active Intelligence, a systems integration company with employees in Canada and the United States, specialises in providing consulting and implementation services around Oracle Retail’s solution portfolio. A Cognizant spokesperson, when contacted, confirmed the development. “AI specialises in providing consulting, implementation and support services around the Oracle Retail Merchandising, Planning and Optimization suite, a growth area for Cognizant’s retail practice. We plan to combine AI’s consulting capabilities and Cognizant’s delivery capabilities in this area,” he said.

The acquisition will be formally announced during Cognizant’s annual results announcement. Industry sources said the size of the deal is quite small, but there wasn’t a number to it. Cognizant has already worked with AI on a number of engagements as independent parties.

Cognizant’s retail practice is among the company’s fastest growing business units, where it has been building domain expertise in enterprise applications, merchandising, store operations and supply chain management. Its customer base includes 11 of the top 30 North American clients. As of the second quarter of 2008, the NASDAQ-listed company gets at least 15.6% of its revenues from the retail, manufacturing and logistics vertical.

Cognizant’s president and managing director recently said in an interview said that valuation expectations have become much more reasonable and that there is a window of opportunity for companies who have cash to do acquisitions that are strategic and attractive. “But our screening criteria remain exactly the same-augment our deep industry expertise, expand our geographic footprint or fill in gaps or strengthen our service expertise,” Mr Chandrasekaran had said.

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