Johannesburg, South Africa (April 21, 2003) - Management of Softline Ltd., the South African parent of North American accounting software companies AccountMate and BusinessVision, proposed de-listing the company from the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and buying it themselves.
Company officials declined comment due to "nondisclosure" considerations. A news report in South Africa indicated that the company's future prospects look good, noting that Softline has posted healthy financial results recently. It quoted an investment analyst speculating that management is looking for a bargain by "trying to do this at the bottom of the cycle."
The total value of the buyout is 510 million Rand, (about US $67 million) according to the news report.
A group of unnamed senior managers and some non-executive directors along with three South African banks have proposed buying the company for 1.30 South African Rand per share. Softline shares closed at 1.17 Rand the day before the offering was announced; however its net asset value was recently estimated at 1.40 Rand per share.
Softline, a longtime developer of accounting, tax and payroll software marketed in South Africa, Europe and Australia, made a big move into North America in 2001 when it acquired AccountMate of Novato, Calif. and BusinesVision, Toronto, and added "Softline" to their names. It has been aggressively building sales channels, which include accounting professionals, for both companies.
In other North American holdings, Softline also owns SVI Solutions Inc., a retail industry software vendor based in San Diego, and Pastel, a low-end accounting software that it tried unsuccessfully to expand into the United States in 1999-2000.
-- John M. Covaleski
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