Epicor Software Corp. has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by London-based private equity firm Apax Partners, with the intent to combine the enterprise resource planning software developer with business management software provider Activant Solutions Inc.

Under the terms of the agreement, Apax will commence a tender offer to acquire all of the outstanding common stock of Epicor for $12.50 per share in cash—or approximately $976 million.

In addition, Apax entered into an agreement to acquire Activant with the intent to create one of the largest global providers of enterprise applications focused on the manufacturing, distribution, services and retail sectors. Following completion of the merger, the combined company will be known as Epicor Software Corporation and will no longer be a publicly traded company. Epicor had been traded on the NASDAQ.

The company declined to elaborate on any further details or significance of the acquisition or merger, beyond a statement attributed to Epicor chairman and chief executive George Klaus. He stated the merger “is extremely positive for Epicor’s customers, employees and shareholders alike. It offers great value to our current stockholders and represents an endorsement of the business strategy, products and technology leadership we have established in the market. With the addition of Activant, the combined company will have over 30,000 customers, $825 million in annual revenues, and the most visionary business application software and deep vertical industry expertise in the market today.”

Under the terms of the agreement, the company may solicit superior proposals from third parties for a period of 30 calendar days through May 4, 2011.

What the news means to the Epicor channel remains to be seen, though Philadelphia-based CompuData Inc. is trying to see the upside while still weighing the gravity of the news.

“I was as surprised as many others, including those that work for Epicor,” said CompuData president and chief executive Angela Nadeau. “We are still assessing what the news means for CompuData and the channel as a whole, [but] I think that Epicor’s product strategy is superior to most of their competitors. The potential folding in of Activant is an unknown in the short term, but if the product follows in Epicor’s current ‘converge’ strategy, then it will eventually become a positive to the product and the company as a whole.”

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