Sage demands Navision takeover investigation

Software maker The Sage Group is trying to persuade European competition authorities to investigate Microsoft's proposed $1.3bn...

Software maker The Sage Group is trying to persuade European competition authorities to investigate Microsoft's proposed $1.3bn (£887m) takeover of Danish rival Navision.

Danish authorities already have begun an inquiry regarding competition issues at the behest of Sage.

Sage fears that Microsoft might bundle Navision's accounting applications with its Windows operating system, SQL Server database or Office software and flood the market at a low price, closing it off to others, Sage spokesman Phil Branston said yesterday (Thursday).

"Bundling could result in unfair competition," he said. "It is worth it for governments to be made aware of this."

Sage executives have met with Danish, UK and European Union competition authorities in the past few days. Trips to France and Germany are also planned.

However, a spokeswoman for the UK Office of Fair Trading said it had not received a complaint from Sage. Nobody at the European Commission competition office was immediately available for comment.

Konkurrence Styrelsen, the competition authority in Denmark, where Navision is based and does most of its business, has launched an investigation to determine whether players on the Danish market share Sage's concerns.

Sage's Branston said Navision has a "near-monopoly on the accounting software market" in Denmark, while Microsoft has a dominant position in the database and the operating system markets. Sage itself has little presence in Denmark, he said.

The Danish authority could not rule on the acquisition because neither Microsoft nor Navision has more than 3.8 billion kronor (£325m) in annual revenue in Denmark, though it could ask the European Commission to look at the deal.

The transaction does not require approval from the European Commission as it does not meet the applicable financial threshold. However, if Denmark makes a referral, the commission, which is already investigating Microsoft on antitrust matters, could launch an investigation.

Microsoft expects the acquisition to close in August. The deal, announced early this month, would boost Microsoft's business-software offerings for small and midsized customers.

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