The Sage Group has a deal in place to acquire Norwegian software and accounting firm Visma for approximately $584 million.

The offer has been recommended by Visma's board of directors and due diligence is now being performed before the agreement is finalized.

With 200,000 customers, Visma is the largest Scandinavian vendor of business management solutions for small and midsized businesses. Visma's revenues for 2005 were approximately $290 million, up almost $40 million from the 2004 figures. As of December 31, Visma had gross assets of approximately $345 million.

"The proposed acquisition of Visma is consistent with the Sage strategy of expanding geographically into new and attractive markets," said Sage chief executive Paul Walker, in a statement. "We see significant potential to build on Visma's leading position in the Scandinavian SME market."

In a statement, Visma chief executive Øystein Moan said that the acquisition by Sage is a huge positive for the future development of Visma. "To a large extent, Visma supplements Sage, and there is very limited overlap in the two companies' market positions," he said.

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