Consulting, software and managed services provider divine Inc. plans to acquire consulting firm Viant Corp. in a stock-for-stock transaction valued at just under $100 million.

The companies, which both focus on collaborative business and extended enterprise technologies, say the combination will give them increased technology deployment capability and a combined customer base of more than 20,000 customers.

The merger follows by a year divine's acquisition of bankrupt Internet consultancy MarchFirst and comes in the wake of consolidations in other sectors of the technology professional services market.

Andrew "Flip" Filipowski, chairman and chief executive officer of Chicago- based divine, said in a conference call with analysts and reporters that the agreement would also extend divine's geographic reach in the Northeast with offices in Boston and New York.

"The theme, the message of divine is amazingly similar to the vision we had of the marketplace," Bob Gett, Boston-based Viant's chairman and CEO, added. He noted that six-year-old Viant had been seeking a partner to help add critical mass in the business collaboration market for several months. "It turns out divine was the only company that we saw that satisfied those plans."

Both boards have approved the agreement calling for exchange of 3.977 shares of divine Class A common stock for each Viant share and a $24 million cash dividend payment by Viant to its shareholders. Following shareholder and regulatory approvals the merger is expected to be completed in June, executives say.

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