Microsoft completes Great Plains $1b deal

Microsoft has wrapped up negotiations to acquire mid-range ERP (enterprise resource planning) software outfit Great Plains in a $US1 billion stock deal.

Under the deal, for which Microsoft announced its intentions in December last year, Great Plains will sit in Microsoft's productivity and business solutions services group as the Microsoft Great Plains business solutions division, operating out of North Dakota.

Richard Johnstone, Great Plains Asia-Pacific director of operations and managing director, will head the Australiasian division of the unit.

The acquisition is in stark contrast to denials Microsoft had long made that it had no interest in the ERP market, of which SAP and Oracle are the leaders for higher-end software in the US.

Microsoft US executives told Computerworld last month they hope the software purchase will complement the company's small business portal bCentral.

Microsoft Great Plains will continue developing its mid-market ERP application eEnterprise, a solution that delivers interconnections between accounting and finance, employees, customers, suppliers and partners.

The companies will integrate their technologies to create a generation of "deep business process solutions" built on the Microsoft .NET platform (an initiative to use XML, SOAP and other standard languages to federate individual Web servers and sites into integrated services), which will be accessible from wireless devices such as PCs, terminals and hand-helds, Microsoft officials said.

The vendors' solutions will also be deployable as Web-based hosted services or on-site, a company statement said.

Through the acquisition, Great Plains shareholders signed before February 21, 2001 will receive 1.1 Microsoft common stock shares for each share of Great Plains common stock.

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