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4/26/2011
03:05 PM
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Lawson Accepts Infor's $2 Billion Bid

ERP provider will become number three vendor and Infor CEO Charles Phillips pledges aggressive investment and support.

Infor's most direct competitor is likely to be Microsoft, with its $1.3 billion Dynamics applications business, although that's one company that has actually succeeded in breaking into the large-enterprise customer ranks, according to Forrester analyst Paul Hamerman.

"Microsoft has been one of the most innovative vendors in ERP, and it has an opportunity to really step up its game with the product-level investments it has made in cloud computing," Hamerman said.

Infor and Lawson both have software-as-a-service products and cloud-computing strategies, but nothing on the scale that Microsoft has mounted. Angove said Infor will "challenge the way things are done" and give customers options to run in the cloud, on premises, or in hybrid scenarios.

Infor might stage early application implementations or localizations in the cloud and give customers the option to move those deployments on premises or leave them running in the cloud, Angove said.

Infor also will square off against Sage and a newly competitive Epicor. Apax Partners announced early this month that it plans to buy and combine the now-separate ERP vendors Epicor and Activant in a deal valued at $2 billion. Operating as Epicor, the new company will combine the manufacturing strengths of Epicor with the distribution and retail strengths of Activant.

Assuming the deal goes through, Infor's acquisition will mark the end of independence for St.Paul, Minn.-based Lawson, a venerable company with a 30-plus-year history in applications. Infor and partner Golden Gate Capital had to sweeten their initial $1.8 billion offer for the company. Under the terms of the merger agreement announced Tuesday, stockholders of Lawson will receive $11.25 per share in cash and the company will be acquired by GGC Software Holdings, an affiliate of Golden Gate Capital and Infor.

In a statement, Lawson said its board explored other options, including soliciting bids from other vendors, but it concluded the merger was in the best interest of stockholders. Infor, meanwhile, gains much stronger finance and human resources applications that those in its current portfolio.

As for Lawson's customers, Hamerman of Forrester didn't see much upside. "Infor has a very lean support organization," he said. "I'd expect them to make cuts in Lawson in support and customers to see degradation in responsiveness on maintenance over time."

Reports of poor service "are part of Infor's reputation of the past," responded Lawson media relations executive Terry Blake. He pointed to Infor's new management team and Phillips' open letter to Lawson customers, in which he promised the company would be a "reliable, proactive and responsive partner."

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