Thursday, October 09, 2014

Epicor-Exact?

So "funds advised by" Apax Partners, the PE giant who has danced in and out of the ERP graveyard for years (most recently failing to find a buyer for Epicor), will be acquiring Exact Holdings, the Dutch rollup which acquired several Tier 2 and Tier 3 ERPs back in the day.

Here's a detailed announcement from the company.

Haven't seen any discussion anywhere yet about potential combinations with Epicor, which would presumably hinge on the nature of the relationship between Apax and these acquisition funds.  The price tag for Exact is $925 million, a little less than Apax paid for Epicor in 2011 (they were looking for at least $3 billion to flip it this year).

Of course, the most likely scenario is just that the "funds advised by" Apax made Exact an offer that was too good to pass up.  The company announcement notes:
The Offer Price represents a premium of 27% to the closing price of 10 July 2014 and a premium of 40% to the average closing share price of the last 12 months prior to that date.
What it doesn't say is that the stock has been consistently down another 10% or so since July, so the premium is even higher than that.  Perhaps the "funds advised by" Apax are looking for a way to pay themselves some nice dividends, like Apax did for itself when it straddled Epicor with additional debt.

For what it's worth, the Bloomberg report on the deal dispenses with the "funds advised by" fig leaf, and just says Apax.  It also includes this beaut of a quote from a Dutch financial analyst:  "Software providers in general are very attractive for private equity, especially when the stocks are trailing due to macroeconomic developments."

In other words, if you've got to put your money somewhere in a crappy market, buy companies with captive customers.  (Here's where I make my regular pitch for open source ERP, which has the effect of giving those customers real choice and control over their software investment...)

Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Infor: The Appeal of Saleslogix is becoming more selective

Turns out that the Saleslogix CRM package, acquired from Sage by their former partner Swiftpage 18 months ago, got sucked into the Infor slipstream.

Because Infor didn't have enough CRM products in its portfolio.  And Saleslogix was just too darn enterprisey for the small-fry folks at Swiftpage.  And Infor needed something like this to effectively compete against Microsoft and Salesforce (with both of whom, especially the latter, it supposedly has a tight partner/platform technology partnership).  Pour yourself a big glass of something brown and alcoholic, and then sit down with the story they fed to Ray Wang and TechCrunch here.

Brings to mind the famous scene in "This is Spinal Tap," where documentary producer notes that the size of venues the band is playing has diminished from 15,000 to 1,500, and asks, "does this mean the popularity of the group is waning?"  And the manager answers, "No, not at all. I just think that the.. uh.. their appeal is becoming more selective."

Thursday, May 22, 2014

But then who would buy Epicor?

As ASUG's Thomas Wailgum rightly calls it, here's the 2014 version of this story...  "8 Reasons Why Microsoft Needs to Buy SAP Right Now."

That would be fun.  Then, to answer the question in the title, maybe Infor buys Epicor, then Oracle buys them both...

So it's a happy ending for all the private equity guys, and the MicroSAP/Epinforacle duopoly plods on, until the valiant open source ERP freedom fighters sneak up on them and turn their market upside down!

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Quoth the raven: Epicor

Wow, that didn't take long.  The WSJ reports Apax Partners is putting Epicor on the block, hoping to find a sucker^H^H^H^H  buyer that will give them a 3x return on their investment in as many years.  Not a lot of detail yet, but here's one nugget that Graveyard readers will enjoy:
In 2012 and 2013, Epicor issued $340 million and $350 million of new debt respectively, to fund dividends to its private-equity owner
Again, wow.  They loaded up this already-unwieldly behemoth with MORE DEBT to pay themselves, TWICE.  And now, not halfway through the year, and only seven months after bringing in a quick-flip CEO, they're looking to unload it for good.

I'll start the bidding at one dollar.

p.s. - got a busy day today, but I know I've got at least one stanza of poetry in me that will pay off the title of this post.  Stay tuned...

UPDATE:  OK, here we go, from the perspective of an outside auditor:

Once upon a business dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a curious volume of financial bore — 
  Not completely understanding, in deeper debt ever landing, 
Why the owners keep demanding, dividends, fees, and ever more.
“’Tis some error,” I muttered, “standing the company increasing poor  —
  Only this and nothing more.”

“Profit!” said I, “thing forgotten!—profit still, if books are rotten—
Customers damned, or tempest tossed by greed and ill ashore,
  Business plans of all acquiring, in deeper debt ever miring,
Execs and bankers rarely firing—tell me truly, I implore—
Who is—who is this foul firm?—tell me—tell me, I implore!”
  Quoth the Raven “Epicor.”

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Ein Fuß auf dem Friedhof?

That is, of course, German for "one foot in the Graveyard"... much confusion and conflicting information about what SAP is and is not doing with its much-discussed BusinessByDesign offering.

Are they pulling the plug on new development?  Maybe.  But as Cindy Jutras noted in a post last month, rumors have been swirling about the product for many months.  But things have picked up - and it kind of feels like the moment where the President says he's got total confidence in the Secretary of Screwups, right before he throws him/her under the bus.

Has ByDesign been successful?  Well, not by most peoples' definition of success.  Ben Kepes over at Forbes faults the SAP culture, which strikes me as fair.  This is, after all, the company who gave us a product called All-in-One.

Typical of the coverage are these posts by AllThingsD and Accounting Technology, which cite original reporting by the German business mag WirtschaftsWoche.  Among the widely-repeated and uncontested factoids therein:

  • 7 years of development work, at a cost of 3 billion Euros (that's $4.1 billion)
  • a grand total of 785 customers to date
  • annual revenue of 23 million Euros ($31.6 million)

So that works out to $5,257,834.39 cost per customer.  Far from groovin'.