A transatlantic shopping trip for Concur

Contact: Brenon Daly

After being out of the M&A market for two years, Concur Technologies reached across the Atlantic earlier this week for a small Paris-based startup to help expand its business in Europe. Currently, business outside of the US accounts for about 10% of overall revenue at Concur. The company has indicated in the past that it plans to triple the level of international revenue in the coming years. Concur said it will pay up to $40m in cash and equity for Etap-On-Line (including unspecified earnouts), but guided not to expect much from the acquisition right now. (Deutsche Bank Securities advised Concur on the transaction.)

There are a number of reasons for the muted initial expectations for the purchase. First, much of Etap’s revenue will likely get washed out because of differences between French and US accounting standards. (Not that there was likely a lot of revenue to start with.) And even the sales that Etap has booked have come primarily from offering its travel and expense management software through licenses. That means Concur will have to convert the technology to its on-demand platform.

Of course, Concur knows a bit about that process, having transformed itself earlier this decade to an on-demand software provider from the license model. In the words of one banker, the transition was ‘a valley of death’ experience for Concur. But now the company has emerged from the valley and carries the rather alpine valuation of about 6 times fiscal year sales. (Concur currently has an enterprise value of about $1.5bn, compared to the projection of about $250m in revenue in its current fiscal year, which wraps at the end of September.) A number of other software firms quietly (and not so quietly) envy Concur’s makeover – and how it has played on Wall Street. Shares of Concur, which spent much of 2001 at less than $1, closed at nearly $37 on Thursday.