Baan yard sale already underway?

Troubled enterprise software vendor Baan finally may be up for sale, as rumours fly surrounding major discussions conducted with two of its major competitors.

Recent reports suggest that Baan has begun acquisition-related discussions with fellow European business rivals Groupe Bull and SAP. This, coupled with a $US75 million operating loss for this year's first quarter, has again opened up industry speculation that the entire company is up for sale.

Locally, Baan officials could not confirm if the company is attempting to sell off the entire business. Major strategic decisions such as these are left up to the company's US division, they said. "At this point, you probably know as much as we do," one Baan official mused.

Speculation that the once-great Dutch software vendor may be seeking a purchasing company to acquire the entire business went into overdrive in January, when CEO Mary Coleman resigned unexpectedly after seven months amid disappointing fourth-quarter losses of $US236 million.

Shortly after, the software maker announced it had enlisted the help of investment bank Lazard Freres & Co to discuss future funding strategies for the company.

At the time, local managing director Gerhard Rumpff told IDG that Baan was considering selling off peripheral elements of the company. Moreover, he agreed that it was possible the investment firm would advise Baan to put the entire business up for sale.

"Anything can happen these days," he said. "Even successful companies can be bought."

Baan lost a total of $US289 million last year on revenue of $635 million, and the company has had four CEOs since mid-1998.

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