Sage Sells off Nonprofit Software, ACT! and SalesLogix

In a pair of transactions, the Sage Group said Friday it has sold off its Nonprofit Solutions software unit to the private equity firm Accel-KKR, and its ACT! contact management software and SalesLogix sales automation software to Swiftpage, a digital marketing services provider.

The London-based company, whose North American unit is based in Irvine, Calif., has been in the process of streamlining and rebranding its multitude of lines of software products in the past year, many of which it has acquired in the past decade or more.

Sage did not specify how much was paid by each buyer, but the aggregate price was £93.4 million, or about $145 million, of which £81.9 million, or about $127 million, is payable in cash on completion. The cash proceeds will be returned to shareholders.

Accel-KKR and Sage are both helping finance Swiftpage in the acquisition of ACT! and SalesLogix, with Accel-KKR also investing in Swiftpage. Sage said it would record a loss on disposal following the completion of the transaction.

Sage noted that Accel-KKR has extensive expertise in accelerating the growth of software companies in vertical industry segments. The private equity firm aims to bring operational best practices and strategic insight to its portfolio companies to help them realize their potential.

Swiftpage provides digital marketing services for small businesses. As an existing ACT! and SalesLogix partner providing integrated e-marketing services, it will be positioned to advance the products. Despite the sale of its contact management and sales force automation software, Sage said it remains committed to the customer relationship management software space through its global Sage CRM system and will continue product investments to ensure it meets the needs of its small and midsize business customers.

“Playing to the strengths of our core business—including accounting, ERP and payroll—will enhance how small and midsize customers experience Sage products and services,” said Sage North America chief technology officer Himanshu Palsule in a statement. “Sage has a strong partner channel to provide additional consultative and technology expertise for our customers, and we offer key integrations to our core including integrated payments and integrated CRM that further solidify lifetime value for customers. Sage remains fully committed to CRM with our Sage CRM product, expert staff employed across the globe, and continued investments to ensure our customers succeed.”

The sales to Accel-KKR and Swiftpage involve seven products. They include three products managed from North America (Sage ACT!, Sage SalesLogix and the Sage Nonprofit Solutions product suite) and four product suites in Europe (C&I, ATL, Automotive and Aytos). Sage North America’s nonprofit products include Sage 100 Fund Accounting, Sage Fundraising 50, Sage Grant Management and Sage Nonprofit Online.

"The sale of these non-core products is consistent with our strategy of focusing our business to accelerate growth and demonstrates significant progress in streamlining the portfolio, allowing regional management to focus on the considerable growth opportunities within their core markets,” said Sage Group chief executive Guy Berruyer in a statement.

To finance the acquisition and to fund future growth and expansion, Swiftpage said it has raised significant capital from a group of partners that includes Sage and technology-focused private equity investment firm Accel-KKR.

Swiftpage president and CEO H. John Oechsle said the acquisition and new funding will accelerate the company’s strategy to deliver its digital marketing service to small and midsize businesses worldwide.

“Sage's products are great complements to our own email marketing, social media marketing and contact management platform,” he said in a statement. “Now, with direct access to these established CRM products, and with more technology and more resources, we’ll be in the strongest position to help our partners and customers deliver the tools that convert prospects, retain customers, and promote growth.”

Swiftpage started in 2001 as a software and services provider to small businesses. The strategy led Swiftpage to become a Sage development partner. The company later offered integrated, white label email and social media marketing solutions for Sage ACT! and Sage SalesLogix.

Oechsle said the acquisition is an important next step that gives Sage ACT! and Sage SalesLogix customers a familiar and like-minded partner focused on making small and medium-sized business successful. "We'll be able to deliver everything from contact management solutions for those just getting started to SalesLogix for medium-sized businesses, so we’re with them every step of the way,” he said.

Accel-KKR managing director Tom Barnds said the firm made its investment decision based on Swiftpage’s track record as a company. “We are very pleased to partner with Swiftpage to help the company achieve its vision of delivering the best in next generation products to customers around the world,” he added.

The law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP represented and advised the Sage Group on the sales of its products. Skadden partners Marc Packer and Jeffrey Brill in New York, and associate Reuben Kobulnik in Boston, worked on the corporate aspects of the deals, while partner Bruce Goldner in New York worked on the intellectual property and technology aspects.

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