EDS sells design software arm for $2bn

Electronic Data Systems has agreed to sell its product data management, collaboration and design software business to three...

Electronic Data Systems has agreed to sell its product data management, collaboration and design software business to three private equity firms for $2.05bn in cash as it moves to slash its debt and focus on its core outsourcing operations.

EDS said its UGS PLM Solutions business was being acquired by equity firms Bain Capital, Silver Lake Partners and Warburg Pincus.

The decision was highly anticipated, as EDS said last October that it planned to divest the unit through an initial public offering or private sale to concentrate on its outsourcing business, which has taken a hit in recent quarters.

The company's outsourcing business has been most notably dogged by problems relating to a huge US Navy contract, which is being investigated by the US Securities and Exchange Commission and spurred the company to take a $559m dollar write-off in its fourth quarter.

EDS executives have insisted, however, that the Navy contract has been "stabilised" and the company is working to strengthen its outsourcing operations.

While UGS PLM Solutions had been a solid contributor to the company's growth, it is "clearly outside of our core focus", said EDS chief financial officer Bob Swan.

The sale will also allow the company to cut its debt load. According to the company's fourth-quarter 2003 financial statements, EDS ended the year with almost $3.5bn in long-term debt, in addition to $1.5bn in other liabilities.

UGS PLM Solutions' sale price is 2.3 times the unit's annual revenue, EDS said. The business generated $897m in revenue and $104m in net income last year. 

The transaction is due to close within 90 days, pending customary closing conditions. UGS PLM Solutions employs approximately 5,000 people. A UK representative for the company could not comment further on the deal, including the status of UGS PLM's employees.

Scarlet Pruitt writes for IDG News Service

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