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There have been one or two minor ones, but Hoskyns Group Plc yesterday announced its first major acquisition since its parent, Martin Marietta Corp, floated 25% of the company’s equity on the London International Stock Exchange. Target is the three companies that make up the Insight Group, which specialise in IBM System 36 and 38 applications and software, and comprise Insight Database Systems Plc, Insight Software (Export) Ltd, and Vector Software Ltd. Hoskyns proposes to pay UKP9.3m – UKP500,000 cash, the balance in shares – upfront, and up to UKP4m in cash provided the companies meet pre-set performance targets over the next three years. The consideration will be met with the issue to the vendors of 3.449m new Hoskyns shares, 1.59m of which have already been conditionally placed with institutions to raise UKP3.9m cash for the vendors. The vendor placing was arranged by Hoare Govett Ltd and Schroder Securities Ltd, brokers to the placing. The group comprises 180 people, 80 of them in Dublin, Ireland, where Vector has an experienced research and development division. Most attractive asset in the package is the Financial Management System integrated set of financial accounting and planning packages, installed at 800 sites worldwide. Hoskyns will also get the BCPS manufacturing and distribution package to which Insight has UK and Ireland marketing rights; Amis, a management information, planning, modelling and decision support package for System 38 and MS-DOS micros; and a series of System 38 Education training courses. Hoskyns believes that it is an opportune time to expand in the IBM 36/38 market, just ahead of the launch of Silverlake, but the price being paid makes it clear that such people businesses don’t come cheap: Hoskyns is paying up to UKP13.3m for companies with assets of UKP1.55m and combined turnover in 1987 of only UKP6.8m, on which an operating profit of UKP1.1m was recorded. That compares with profit of UKP383,000 in 1983, on turnover of UKP2.7m: in 1984 profits slumped to UKP165,000 on lower turnover, and the performance for 1986 was not quite as good as 1983, since when Insight has stormed ahead. For its own part, Hoskyns reports that trading for the first half of its own current year has been strong, highlight of course being the prospect of that monster UKP42m facilities management contract for the London Residuary Body.

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