Baan Moves to Boost Financial Health

FRAMINGHAM (03/13/2000) - Baan Co. NV in Putten, Netherlands, yesterday said it sold off an 11 percent stake in Spanish software vendor Meta4 Spain SA as part of an effort to increase its shareholder equity and avoid being dropped from the Amsterdam stock exchange's blue-chip index.

Netherlands-based Baan is scheduled to meet with officials at the Amsterdam exchange tomorrow to find out if it has done enough to satisfy them. In mid-February, the exchange gave Baan a month to raise its shareholder equity figure after that number -- an important measure of financial health -- had been eroded by six straight quarters of losses.

Baan risks having its stock put in a "special listing" category by the exchange. But the struggling business applications vendor said its equity level has been boosted $61 million by the stock sale, which was announced yesterday, and a debt-for-equity swap that was made last week with some bondholders.

In the latest financial maneuver, Baan is selling its Meta4 stock to unidentified institutional investors for $53 million. Baan bought the stock for $20 million two years ago and also signed a deal to resell human resources and payroll software developed by Meta4.

Baan will continue selling those applications and said it's paying Meta4 $13 million in up-front license and maintenance fees. Subtracting that payment from the sale price for its Meta4 stock, Baan will end up with $40 million in new cash and a $20 million equity gain.

Rob Ruijter, Baan's chief financial officer, said in a statement that the company "remains in a challenging environment." But the financial moves should make it "clear to all that we are taking the steps we need to take to get our business back on track," he added.

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