Johannesburg, S.A. - The South African parent of North American accounting software developers Softline AccountMate and Softline BusinessVision postponed a July 21 shareholders meeting that was to have discussed the potential sale of the company, because it had not received firm offers from all bidders.

The three bidders are Sage Group plc, the U.K.-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 parent of Exact North America, the former Macola Software.

Softline, which trades on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, has not set a new date for the meeting. Investor relations director Lara Jawitz outlined 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 dropped shortly after news of the postponement to 1.74 Rand (about 23 cents) from 1.75 Rand the day before. The price had steadily risen from 1.17 Rand when the internal management bid was announced in mid-April, and 1.60 Rand when Sage announced its bid in late June.

The bids and the order in which they were announced are: internal managers -1.30 Rand per share; Ferrer and Exact - 1.45 Rand; and Sage - 1.80 Rand.

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