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9/13/2012
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Epicor Buys ERP Rival, Broadens Cloud Offering

Epicor acquires Solarsoft Business Systems, introduces scaled-up, multi-tenant ERP service aimed at midmarket companies.

Enterprise resource planning vendor Epicor announced Thursday that it has agreed to acquire U.K.-based Solarsoft Business Systems, a midmarket ERP vendor that will help Epicor strengthen its presence in Europe reach new industry markets, including building materials, automotive, and print and packaging.

Epicor is a fast-growing ERP provider that doubled in size last year to exceed $800 million in revenue through a merger with Activant orchestrated by parent company Apax Partners. The latest acquisition will push Epicor toward the $1 billion mark, as privately-held, Basingstoke, U.K.-based Solarsoft has approximately $90 million in annual revenues.

Owned by Marlin Equity Partners, Solarsoft has nearly 2,000 customers and 400 employees across offices in Asia, Europe, and North America. The terms of the deal, which is expected to close within 45 days, were not disclosed. Epicor hopes to sell some of its latest software, including mobile, business intelligence, and services oriented architecture offerings to Solarsoft customers. One strength in the Solarsoft portfolio that is currently lacking in the Epicor suite is manufacturing execution systems (MES).

"We have some MES capabilities, but Solarsoft had acquired two best-of-breed MES and MES intelligence providers, and they were very specialized on monitoring the information on the shop floor and across production facilities in real time," said John Hiraoka, EVP and CMO at Epicor, in an interview with InformationWeek.

[ Want more on one of Epicor's midrange rivals? Read Infor Reinvented: Enterprise Software's 'Biggest Startup'. ]

MES is used by consumer packaged goods, food and beverage, and other process manufacturers. Hiraoka said most of Solarsoft's business is in North America and Europe, so Epicor also expects to bolster MES sales in Asia, where it has a stronger presence than does Solarsoft. Hiraoka said Solarsoft's heavily .Net-based portfolio of software will be compatible with Epicor's portfolio, but he said software roadmaps could not be discussed until the deal is finalized.

Epicor's acquisition news comes just days after it released a significant upgrade of its cloud-based options with Epicor ERP, a multi-tenant offering aimed at larger midsize firms with multiple facilities, entities and geographic markets. Epicor introduced Epicor Express Editions in 2010, but those were packaged SaaS offerings targeting smaller companies in the sub-$20-million-revenue league.

"We're effectively broadening the audience that we'll deploy our [SaaS] product to larger organizations," Hiraoka said. It's the same, fully multi-tenant software, but Epicor has exposed functionality for multi-company structures, multiple plants, master data management, advanced planning and scheduling, and other features that are turned off and not exposed in the Express offerings, he said.

Epicor can now deliver the same software to small or midsized organizations in the on-premises, hosted, or SaaS models, with multi-tenancy being a cost-saving advantage of its cloud delivery model.

Epicor is not the only provider of ERP for midsized companies that's acquiring and growing. Last year Epicor rival Infor acquired Lawson Software, and it has since exceed $2.8 billion in annual revenue.

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