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Baan put back up on the auction block

Three years after acquiring financially troubled Baan, Invensys puts the Dutch software maker up for sale again.

Three years after acquiring financially troubled Baan, Invensys is selling the Dutch software maker as part of a restructuring of its operations.

London-based Invensys, which acquired Baan for $708 million in 2000, announced its plans to sell the unit on Wednesday. Baan, which competes with SAP, PeopleSoft and Oracle in the business-management applications market, is one of several units Invensys is shedding in an ongoing effort to spur growth and reduce debt, the company said.

"Senior executives and the Baan board are in talks with several firms interested in acquiring the company," said a Baan representative. "In the meantime, Baan is committed to 'business as usual' during the transition."

Baan, founded in 1978, is part of a $2.4 billion unit of Invensys and employs about 2,800 people. More than 6,500 companies use Baan's software--designed to automate accounting, sales, manufacturing and human resources operations--to run their businesses. They include Volvo, Solectron, Boeing and British Aerospace, according to the Baan Web site.

The sale of the Dutch software maker coincides with a two-year contraction in the business applications market. License sales have been in decline at all of the software leaders, including SAP, Siebel Systems and PeopleSoft. And as the market retrenches, numerous software companies have been acquired and have closed their doors.

Invensys is seeking a buyer that will continue to maintain Baan's products and support its customers, according to the Baan representative. Invensys plans to discuss further details on May 29, the day that the U.K. production management company is scheduled to report yearly 2002 financial results.

Market analysts at technology research firm AMR Research expect Invensys to find a buyer for Baan within the next few weeks and are optimistic about Baan's prospects. "Life will go on, just as it did when Invensys bought Baan," AMR Research said in a note published Wednesday. "Baan is a solid product and a valuable property; no matter who gets it, it will still be taken seriously and not bled dry of declining maintenance revenue until it can be shut down."

Potential Baan suitors include SSA Global Technologies in Chicago and PeopleSoft in Pleasanton, Calif., according to AMR Research. An SSA Global Technologies representative declined to comment. PeopleSoft representatives were not immediately available to comment, and the Baan representative said Invensys has not yet named the companies interested in purchasing it.