Lawson Software Awaits Decision on Possible Acquisition, CEO Says

The ERP firm that partners with state and local governments could know fate in a matter of weeks; impact on public-sector customers is unknown, Lawson CEO Harry Debes said.

by / April 4, 2011
Lawson Software CEO Harry Debes Lawson Communications

BOSTON — No official decisions have been made on the $1.8 billion unsolicited bid that software company Infor made last week for Lawson Software, said Lawson CEO Harry Debes on Monday, April 4, at the company’s annual user conference.

“There is an elephant in the room,” he said about the bid during his keynote speech to a crowd of 3,000 public- and private-sector customers. “We are obliged to take this matter very seriously. We are evaluating the offer and our options.”

If approved, the deal would bring the combined revenue of the two enterprise resource planning (ERP) software firms to $3 billion. Infor, a privately held company, has acquired more than 20 applications vendors over the past decade. The company has $1.8 billion in revenue and more than 70,000 customers. Lawson had $736 million in revenue in 2010 and currently has more than 4,500 customers.

Some industry analysts think Oracle Corp. might also submit a bid for Lawson.

Debes didn’t say Monday how a merger would affect the company’s public-sector customers. He said there would be no further comments until the final decision is made in a few weeks. “In the meantime,” he said, “we remain totally focused on serving our customers.”

Lawson recently completed a $70 million acquisition of Enwisen, a software-as-a-service provider of HR service delivery and work-force communication solutions. The company has hired financial adviser Barclays Capital to evaluate the current proposal from Infor and venture capital partner Golden Gate Capital.

At the conference, public-sector customers spoke about solutions that have been successful for their counties. Kevin Ellsworth, chief financial officer of Scott County, Minn., talked about moving the county’s Lawson software from Oracle to the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2). Scott County first tested the Amazon application by using an ERP disaster recovery service, Ellsworth said. 

When the county’s three-year managed services agreement with Lawson expired in November 2010, the county worked with Lawson on a full migration to the Amazon Web Services platform for its full ERP. The county completed the migration in March.

Ellsworth said a local school district that shares the same fiber-optic cable with Scott County is co-hosting the ERP software, which lowers costs for both organizations.

The county’s application deployment costs have remained “basically flat for years,” he said, while other IT expenses have been increasing.

Hillsborough County, Fla., Public Schools recently finished a beta test of Lawson Talent Management Software that helped the school district complete 25,000 teacher evaluations in the past six months, said public schools manager Joe Cochran.

Tom Wilson, IT program supervisor for Arlington, Texas, said his city recently implemented Lawson’s Strategic Sourcing software, which helps manage supplier relationships, to meet the City Council’s request for more transparency on business dealings with various vendors and small businesses.

“City Council wants to know what businesses we are working with,” he said. Wilson said he is currently considering a cloud computing solution for the city, but hasn’t made a final decision.

Recent public sector projects for Lawson include enhancements for handling multi-funded projects, which could include grants, bonds and other funding sources. 

Lauren Katims Nadeau

Lauren Katims previously served as a staff writer and contributing writer for Government Technology magazine.