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Infor Acquires Lawson: What's Its Next ERP Buy?

Cross-brand product integration work begins. So does speculation on which ERP vendor Infor CEO Charles Phillips might gobble up next.

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ERP system vendor Infor and partner Golden Gate Capital completed their acquisition of Lawson Software on Tuesday. So you have to wonder: Which vendor will be next on Infor's acquisition radar?

Lawson accepted an unsolicited $2 billion bid from Infor and Golden Gate Capital in April. Infor announced on Wednesday that its $11.25-per-share cash deal was completed July 5, just six days after a majority of Lawson shareholders formally approved the offer.

The bid raised concern among many Lawson customers based on Infor's past reputation for aggressive acquisitions followed by minimal integration work and subpar service and support. But Infor came under new management last October when former Oracle President Charles Phillips took the helm as CEO and appointed four former Oracle proteges as his top lieutenants.

When Infor's bid was accepted in April, Phillips went out of his way issue a lengthy statement to Lawson customers in which he promised Infor would be a "reliable, proactive, and responsive partner."

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Infor said it will begin integration work immediately on three pairings of Infor and Lawson products to be introduced later this year. Infor's FMS SunSystems Enterprise will be integrated with Lawson's S3 ERP system to support two-tier financial management. S3 will support financial planning and management at headquarters while FMS SunSystems will provide a simpler, lower-cost option for subsidiaries and satellite operations.

In a second pairing, Lawson S3 will be integrated with Infor's Enterprise Asset Management system, extending S3 capabilities to manage operations, tracking and maintenance of capital equipment. The third pairing will see Infor's Workforce Management application combined with Lawson's Human Capital Management system to create a single system for managing all employee-related functions, including core HR, talent management, eLearning, time and attendance, and payroll.

"These first product examples reflect the potential of this partnership and the fast pace of our development efforts," stated Phillips. "We will continue our work to deliver deeper functionality and industry-specific applications, particularly in key industries such as manufacturing, healthcare, distribution, public sector and hospitality."

With the Lawson deal completed, many expect Infor to pursue yet more acquisitions. Phillips is no stranger to mergers and acquisitions, having spearheaded dozens of deals during his seven years at Oracle.

With the addition of Lawson, Infor's revenues should exceed $2.5 billion, placing it a distant third in the market for on-premises ERP software after SAP and Oracle. SAP had $17.6 billion in revenue in 2010. Oracle does not break out its applications revenue.

Potential acquisition candidates include Infor competitors such as Sage and Epicor. Headquartered in the U.K., Sage had 2010 sales of about $2.2 billion from a diverse range of ERP, accounting, and CRM products. Epicor recently merged with Activant in a complementary pairing engineered by Apax Partners; Epicor caters to manufacturers while Activant served distributors and retailers. The revenue of the combined entity, which will continue under the Epicor name, should exceed $800 million.

Microsoft, with its $1.3 billion Dynamics applications lineup, is another competitor, but that's not a business that's likely to be spun off. Microsoft has announced it will begin delivering ERP software-as-a-service (SaaS) beginning next year. Microsoft CRM OnDemand already is a well-established component of Microsoft's growing cloud-computing portfolio.

Infor bolstered its own fledgling SaaS portfolio through this week's deal. Lawson had about $30 million in SaaS revenue primarily through a targeted human capital management service. But the vast majority of Infor's revenue--and core strategy--is centered on conventional, on-premises software. That makes acquisitions and further consolidation of the ERP software sector a safe bet.

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