A return to dealmaking for Epicor?

Contact: Ben Kolada

After Apax Partners combined ERP giants Epicor Software and Activant Solutions last year, the new firm has been fairly quiet in the M&A market. Now that the dust has settled on the $2bn combination and declining revenue has been reversed, we wonder if the ‘new’ Epicor might return to the M&A market in fuller force.

Neither Activant nor Epicor had fully recouped the losses they suffered during the recession. But Apax’s Epicor announced fiscal 2012 results today that show revenue is steadily growing. On a trailing basis, Activant and Epicor combined posted revenue of $813m in the 12 months leading up to their pairing. Revenue for the just-closed fiscal year, which ended September 30, rose 5% to $855m.

After having some time to digest the merger, we wonder if the new Epicor may return to dealmaking. In their previous lives, Epicor and Activant were fairly frequent acquirers. The two companies combined had announced a dozen deals in the decade leading up to their merger. Since selling to Apax, the new Epicor has done just three, two of which were sub-$10m tuck-ins.

However, Epicor recently made a move that signals it may return to big-ticket M&A. In October, Epicor closed its $155m acquisition of ERP, SCM and BI software vendor Solarsoft Business Systems, which was doing about $90m in annual revenue.

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Apax goes double or nothing in big software bet

Contact: Brenon Daly

Apax Partners is going double or nothing in the latest addition to its software portfolio. The buyout firm plans to spend a total of $2bn to put together a pair of old-line ERP vendors, Epicor Software and Activant Solutions. And it is very much a ‘paired’ deal. In fact, according to terms, Apax closing its Activant purchase is a precondition of its planned take-private of Epicor.

That said, neither Apax’s purchase of Activant from its current private equity (PE) owners nor the buyout of Epicor should present much of a problem to get closed this quarter. But it does underline the necessity of cost ‘synergies’ in a deal (or in this case, two) for a mature company. (We noted that fact in the very similar proposed take-private of Lawson Software.)

If the double-barreled deals go through (as we assume they will), it would mark the end of a two-and-a-half-year effort by Elliott Associates to get Epicor sold. The hedge fund accumulated a 10% stake in Epicor in 2008 and then floated an offer of $9.50 for each remaining share of Epicor. It later trimmed that to $7.50 per share as the software company’s outlook deteriorated. (Epicor’s total revenue dropped 16% in 2009, and sales in 2011, while expected to increase, are still forecasted to come in below the level of 2008.) Apax is set to pay $12.50 per share for Epicor – an offer that Elliot has signed off on.