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April 11, 2011

Lawson acquisition a one horse race?

Oracle, SAP, HP unlikely to bid

By Cbr Rolling Blog

Infor’s unsolicited $1.84bn offer for fellow enterprise resource planning (ERP) vendor Lawson Software is likely to be the only offer on the table as Oracle and SAP are unlikely to join the bidding, Infor’s chief strategy officer, Bruce Richardson, has told CBR.

With no official word on the current status of Infor’s bid, there have been plenty of rumours that Oracle was waiting to pounce.

But speaking to CBR, Richardson, ex-AMR head of research, said he didn’t think Lawson would fit well with Oracle or SAP. "I find that hard to believe [they would bid for Lawson]. Neither wants anything to do with the AS/400 platform. With my analyst hat on, I can’t see it. People may say SAP, Microsoft or even HP, I’ve known Léo [Apotheker, HP CEO] for along time and I can’t see them stepping in and doing it. I think they have much bigger ambitions than buying a midrange player in this market."

And Oracle? ERP is not a huge focus for them at the moment, Richardson thinks: "In some ways Oracle is like us; they’ve got products in every category. If you were to draw a grid of what companies may want to buy there are very few boxes it doesn’t check – CRM, SCM, PLM," he told CBR. "The difference is Oracle hasn’t really gone directly after the ERP market for a while. Its sales people are most comfortable selling to the Fortune 500 and they’ve already made their decision on that. Most of the growth in the ERP space is in the smaller and mid-market."

Charles Phillips, former Oracle president, is now heading up Infor and since his arrival at the end of last year he’s added a number of other former Oracle employees to his management team. So is the stage set for an Oracle acquisition of Infor, particularly if it turns its attentions back to the ERP space?

"As a shareholder, I love that idea! But I find it really hard to believe. If you look at what they’re doing – what application companies have they bought? I think they’re more focused on what they’re doing with Sun. Can they make it a competitor to IBM, HP, Dell? I think their focus is completely different," Richardson said.

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