Delft, the Netherlands (June 17, 2003) -- Netherlands-based Exact Software wants to acquire Softline Ltd., the South African parent of the developers of North American business software applications, AcccountMate and BusinessVisiion.
Exact said that it and Ivan Ferrer, a minority shareholder of Softline, plan to make an offer to acquire a majority stake in Softline pending the results of due diligence on the deal. Ferrer is the founder of Pastel Software, a low-cost, small business accounting software developer Softline acquired in 1999; Exact is best known in North America as the parent of the former Macola Software, an enterprise resource planning software developer, which it acquired in 1999 and renamed Exact Software North America.
Exact estimates its Softline proposal's value at 569 million South African Rand, or $72.9 million, which would be 11 percent higher than a 510 Rand bid submitted by a group of Softline managers, who in mid-April proposed buying the company and de-listing it from the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.
Exact said it wants to make Softline a separate business unit of Exact that will continue supporting all its current products in South Africa, Australia and North America. Ferrer would become chief executive replacing Ivan Epstein, Softline's current top man, who is also part of the management buyout bid.
When Softline management announced their proposed buyout, Epstein said, "This is an amazing vote of confidence; what we are saying is that we believe in the current and future prospects of the business." He further said he and other buyout managers believe "the business is worth more even though the market doesn't think so."
Exact expects its due diligence to be completed in less than two weeks and, if favorable, it will announce the offer prior to a Softline shareholders meeting in which the management buyout is scheduled to be considered.
Softline has been very active pursuing accountants as resellers, and tweaking its sales model since 2001 when it acquired the former AccountMate software company of Novato, Calif., and the former BusinessVision of Toronto, Canada, and placed them in its North American affiliate, Softline Software. Last week the company officials disclosed plans to drop the price for a single user version of BusinessVision to $199 from $995.
-- John M. Covaleski
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