The following post is republished from AccountingWEB UK, a source that delivers topical, practical content to accountants and accounting professionals.
Merger rumors. What would we do without them? The past decade or so of my professional life has been shaped by the regular appearance of bid rumors around Sage, usually of the “who are they going to buy this week?” sort.
So you can imagine my surprise to hear on the grapevine that Sage’s share price had surged almost 5% on Tuesday night on rumors that it was an acquisition target for SAP, with Microsoft and Gapgemini reported to be sniffing around the undergrowth in Newcastle too.
I’m not a stock market analyst, so I don’t really need to chase geese like this, but I couldn’t help myself from doing a little background checking. The Daily Mail appears to have broken the story, without naming sources, around 10:30 pm on Monday night. By the next morning, Reuters and numerous other outlets had picked up the trail and various analysts were puffing up the story with blogs and tweets.
There was a tweet from China Martens at 451 group of “late night activity in Walldorf” to verify that something was up, but with none of the companies involved breaking cover this really was one of those stories where one bit of unfounded gossip was feeding off another.
Years of industry-watching have taught me never to be surprised at what a software company with a wedge of cash in its back pocket can get up to, but neither SAP or Microsoft strike me as being suitable suitors for Sage. Microsoft’s entire business solutions strategy has been in turmoil for years and if it ever enters Steve Ballmer’s consciousness, my guess is that he wishes the company had never got into bed with Great Plains and Navision.
SAP meanwhile, is everything that Sage isn’t: a technology-focused global monolith that still has trouble thinking of an SME as having anything less than a $500m annual turnover. On this point Dennis Howlett blogged, “So much of Sage’s business is at an end of the market about which SAP has little understanding. Sage is on a declining organic growth curve, has a rat’s nest of code from acquired companies, is propped up by maintenance fees and has a nightmare in the US to manage with the ongoing Emdeon fiasco.”
It doesn’t happen often, but for once I find myself in complete agreement with him.
Strangely, by Wednesday afternoon the rumors had simmered down and so had the share price (although somebody seems to have done very nicely out of the rumors with 1.7m of shares shifted at the peak of the frenzy on Tuesday night).
Now I’ve voiced my doubts, they’ll probably turn around an announce the deal in the morning.