Johannesburg, South Africa (July 22, 2003) -- Softline, Ltd., the South African parent of North American accounting software developers, Softline AccountMate and Softline BusinessVision, postponed a July 21 shareholders meeting about the potential sale of the company because it has not received firm offers from all bidders.
The three bidders are Sage plc, the England-based parent of Best Software in the United states, a group of internal Softline managers, and minority Softline shareholder, Ivan Ferrer, joined by Exact Software, the Dutch-based parent of Exact North America, the former Macola Software company.
Softline, which trades on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, has not set a new date. Investor relations director Lara Jawitz painted the following scenario: "We require firm offers -- if they are going to make them -- from both Sage and Exact; then a circular will be sent out by the party making the highest offer to shareholders; thereafter 21 days from the date the circular is sent out a shareholder meeting will be held."
After several weeks of steady gains, Softline stock closed last Friday at 1.74 Rand per share down from 1.75 Rand the day before. The price had steadily risen from 1.17 when the internal management bid was announced in mid-April, and 1.6 Rand when Sage announced its bid in late June.
Ron Verni, chief executive of Best Software, said Softline's North American operations are not a driving force in Sage's bid. "Softline would bring us some complementary products in North America, but the real thrust of the deal is geographic extension by Sage into South Africa and Australia," Verni said.
Exact North America has not publicly commented on the deal. Exact, Best and Softline all have reseller channels that include accountants and technology practices affiliated with accounting firms.
-- John M. Covaleski
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