The Company was founded in 1988 by the merger of the British CAP Group and the French company, Sema-Metra SA. In 1991 Sema and British Aerospace established the BAeSEMA naval systems joint venture to produce naval systems: it was dissolved in November 1998 when BAe purchased Sema's 50% share for £77 million.
By December 1991 Sema had acquired the Cambridge-based consultancy Baddeley Associates, from which it created Sema Group Consulting.
In 1997, Sema acquired British Rail Business Systems for £27m which was sold off by the UK Government as part of the Privatisation of British Rail. In the same time frame, Sema also acquired Syntax in Italy, formerly the IT Services division of Olivetti, adding another important market to its geography.
In 2000, Sema acquired LHS for €5.1 billion to access its US telecoms software and services businesses: some analysts blamed the LHS acquisition for a profits warning in 2000 and a 45% fall in its stock market valuation.
In 2001, Sema Group plc was acquired by Schlumberger and was renamed SchlumbergerSema. In 2004 the bulk of the company was sold on to Atos Origin. The messaging unit was merged with Taral Networks and spun off as Airwide Solutions. The Smart Card and Terminal Department (formerly part of Schlumberger Test & Transactions) became Axalto, which later merged with Gemplus International to form Gemalto.
Sema was registered in the United Kingdom but headquartered in Paris. Sema originally stood for Société d'Économie et de Mathématiques Appliquées.
- CAP Group merged with Sema-Metra to form Sema Group in a deal valued at £93.7 million ($177.1 million US). To effect the transaction, CAP Group offered 24 ordinary shares for each Sema-Metra share held. French shareholders received 55% of Cap Group's stock. Paribas, which advised Sema-Metra in the transaction, saw its stake reduced from 70% of SEMA-Metra to 40% of SEMA Group.
CAP Group PLC launches a tender offer for Sema-Metra SA, Thomson Financial Mergers & Acquisitions, 29 Apr 1988
Note that the summary on the webpage is potentially misleading:
- it refers to 'Sema-Matra' - a typing or scanning error,
- it refers to 'Schlumberger Ltd' - the company that later acquired SEMA Group; this is no doubt because of the way the information was stored inside Thomson Financial Mergers & Acquisitions databases.
- Sema originally stood for: Société d'économie et de mathématiques appliquées.
- BAe in Joint Venture with IT Group Sema Birmingham Post, 11 September 1998
- Sema to buy LHS New York Times, 16 March 2000
- Sema poised to exit FTSE 100 as profit warning halves value Independent, 25 November 2000
- Relief for Sema shareholders at Schlumberger buy-out Independent, 12 February 2001
- Atos Origin to buy Schlumberger Sema for $1.5bn Computer Weekly, 23 September 2003