Enterprise search provider Autonomy is to acquire Meridio, a Belfast-based provider of enterprise records management software.

Under the terms of the deal, Autonomy will pay approximately £20 million in cash and shares for the privately held-company, which was founded back in 2001. The acquisition is expected to have little to no impact on Autonomy results in the fourth quarter, which is just as well, as the markets took a dim view of its third quarter financials released Tuesday.

Autonomy revealed very little information about the deal, and did not respond to a request for interview at the time of going to press. But what is known is that Meridio provides document and records management (eDRM) software exclusively for the Microsoft platform. Its goal is to enable organisations to meet their corporate governance needs.

Meridio has headquarters in Belfast, but has sales and marketing offices in the US, Europe and Asia Pacific. It employs over 160 staff, but there is no word on what will happen to them following the deal’s closure.

Mike Davis of analyst house Ovum believes the acquisition is a very significant move which will further increase Autonomy’s penetration into the large-scale, high-margin US defence and intelligence sector, and “offer the ‘missing piece’ in information management for large financial and other institutions.”

“Meridio functionality makes an Autonomy offering delivering archiving, search/discovery, and certified records management in a single platform a very compelling proposition to the largest of organisations,” believes Davis.

Autonomy champions what it calls “meaning-based computing” for the enterprise. This entails advanced enterprise search, knowledge management, and electronic discovery technologies.

The company is not adverse to spending money to fill holes in its product portfolio. Back in July 2003 it spent nearly $25m acquiring Virage, a provider of audio and video search technology. Then in 2005 the acquisition bug really took hold and it acquired NCorp, a provider of structured data handling. It followed this by spending $70m on call centre CRM provider etalk, and then in November 2005 it paid a staggering $500m for rival business search and process management software provider Verity. This deal also brought with it the business process management company Cardiff.

And in 2007 Autonomy spent an undisclosed amount to deepen its confrontation against Fast Search and Transfer (FAST), when it acquired the sales team who left Convera Fast in the United States.

In July it paid $375m to acquire Zantaz, a provider of e-discovery and content archiving software.