UPDATE: Great Plains Acquires RealWorld

Great Plains Software Inc. has announced plans to buy RealWorld Corp., a developer of accounting and business applications, in a cash-and-stock deal valued at US$5.5 million in cash.

In addition to paying cash, Great Plains will issue 184,000 shares of common stock to the owners of RealWorld under terms of the purchase agreement, which was announced by Great Plains yesterday. Great Plains expects to gain more than 20,000 medium-sized customers through the acquisition, and hopes to tap RealWorld's partner network to expand its channel.

Great Plains intends to continue supporting the RealWorld products, but Gary Schafer, director and general manager of Great Plains' customer management group, said the company would market its e-business products Dynamics and eEnterprise aggressively to RealWorld customers. The Great Plains software products are used by about 22,000 customers now, according to Great Plains.

"Our goal is certainly to migrate and move people to our Dynamics and eEnterprise products," Schafer said today in a phone interview.

The RealWorld Classic group of products, a family of accounting applications, will be supported with tax updates and bug fixes as long as there is a significant customer base, Schafer said.

Great Plains expects to retain at least 65 employees located at RealWorld headquarters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who have extensive experience in developing, marketing and selling business management solutions to medium-size companies. There will be some layoffs in other administrative departments where there is overlap, Schafer said.

Great Plains offers e-business applications for financials, distribution, enterprise reporting, project accounting, electronic commerce, human resource management, manufacturing, sales and marketing management and customer service and support.

RealWorld was one of several accounting software companies sued for selling versions of its software that would not work as of Jan. 1, 2000. It settled the class-action suit in April. [See "Financial Software Firm Settles Y2K Suit," April 30.]Great Plains, in Fargo, North Dakota, can be reached at +1-701-281-0555 or found on the Web at http://www.greatplains.com/. RealWorld, in Manchester, New Hampshire, can be reached at +1-603-641-0200 or found on the Web at http://www.realworld.com.

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