Toronto (Oct. 6, 2003) -- The pending acquisition of Softline Ltd. by Sage plc, the United Kingdom-based parent of Best Software, was the hot discussion topic among the approximately 300 resellers gathered here for the Partnership 2003 conference of Softline's North American accounting software affiliate BusinessVision.

The resellers — who included a sizable portion of accountants — were most interested in what would occur with BusinessVision, which seems likely to become part of Best Software. Their informal discussions focused on whether Best would continue the BusinessVision products and where those products fit in Best’s line of software that already includes Peachtree and MAS 90/200 accounting, FAS fixed-asset computation and Abra payroll, among others.

"BusinessVision could be a perfect fit for Best in reaching customers who are outgrowing Peachtree, but can't afford MAS 90," said Peter Frank, CPA, CITP, partner of CG Solutions, the technology arm of New York CPA firm Cornick, Garber & Sandler.

Bruce T. Andersen, CPA, president of BTA Consulting & Training in Woodland Hills, Calif., agreed the deal would make sense for Best, but, added, "I just hope they don't take six months figuring out what to do because delays hurts these kind of things."

In his opening speech, BusinessVision president Murray Aston discussed new selling and product and selling strategies underway, but only mentioned the Best-Sage deal in passing. Best officials have declined comment because, even though Softline shareholders voted Sept. 23 to accept Sage's acquisition bid, the deal is not finalized.

"I don't know exactly what will happen, but it could be better for BusinessVision because it'll be part of bigger company," said David Bilbrey, president of DBC Systems, a Detroit-area BusinessVision reseller. One reseller, talking with a colleague at the conference, noted, "Best seems to keep alive the products it acquires. Let's hope that happens with us."

South African-based Softline's other North American businesses are AccountMate, a San Francisco area accounting software company, and DataFaction, a Los Angeles-based developer of business management software for high net worth individuals.

-- John M. Covaleski

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