Analysts raise fears over Baan sale

Invensys has completed the £82m sale of Baan to two US-based equity groups - General Atlantic Partners and Cerberus Capital...

Invensys has completed the £82m sale of Baan to two US-based equity groups - General Atlantic Partners and Cerberus Capital Management.

According to a Baan statement the sale will result in the combination of Baan with ERP supplier SSA GT, which is owned by General Atlantic. Baan will operate globally as the Baan division of the company with sales, marketing, development, consulting and support teams.

The sale has raised fears in some analysts that the combination of the companies would see Baan product development sidelined.

Simon Bragg, an analyst with manufacturing IT research group ARC Consulting, said if Baan were to come under SSA Global Technologies' control, prospects for future development could be limited and the forthcoming launch of Baan's web services-based ERP product could be in doubt.

"The big worry is development spend and whether Gemini [a Baan product] is going to come out as planned in September," he said.

"SSA's track record of development spend is not good. The company has been contract mining - contacting users and squeezing more licences out of existing implementations - rather than developing.

"If you have Baan as core software you will probably ringfence your investment. If you are a large corporate with a mixed environment including, for example, SAP and Oracle, you will almost certainly not stay with Baan."

Baan said in its statement that Gemini will be launched this autumn.

SSA GT vice-president for global marketing, Lee Mashburn responded, "We continue to enhance customer competitiveness by reinvesting 15% of total revenues into research and development. A significant portion of this directly relates to integration of e-business and extension products.

"In the past 12 months alone, we have launched new versions of several major ERP product lines. Our licence revenue is strong - 33% of our revenues come from software licence fees - 20% of that is from new customers."

Baan has a significant presence in the UK manufacturing sector, with customers including BAE Systems and Del Monte.

It had been hoped that the sale of Baan would go some way to answering users' uncertainty over whether their core software systems would be developed further.

After a collapse in sales around the time Invensys bought the company in 2000 for $708m (£431m), in recent months the management team have stabilised Baan and announced a number of new customer wins.

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