Baan may sell itself down the river

Baan may sell itself down the river

Sinking software company Baan has hired an investment firm to provide strategic advice to its US operation, but local MD Gerhard Rumpff won't speculate on the outcome.

Rumpff said Baan and investment firm Lazard Freres & Co will discuss funding strategies, including the possibility of selling off peripheral elements of the company.

"They will give us advice on what is the best way to get equity without diluting our shareholding," he said. "They may also help us to look at some areas where we can divest off certain parts of the business. We have a very broad range, and some products do not necessarily need to be part of our core business."

He said any business decision made by Baan in the US would not automatically force Baan's Asia-Pacific operation to follow suit. "Unless it is something major, I don't think it will affect the Australian operation," he said.

Rumpff said the possible sale would not affect service and support to existing Baan customers in the meantime.

Baan's announcement last week that it would hire Lazard Freres & Co to "assist in raising additional equity and evaluating the company's long-term strategic alternatives", arrived as Baan reported a $US236 million net loss for the fourth quarter of last year.

Baan lost a total of $US289 million last year on revenue of $635 million, and the company has had four CEOs since mid-1998. Pierre Everaert, who took over that job on an interim basis after former CEO Mary Coleman resigned last month, said in a statement yesterday that Baan "continues to be in a challenging environment".

Rumpff said that while it was possible the investment firm would advise Baan to put itself up for sale, he did not know how likely this outcome would be. "Anything can happen these days. Even successful companies can be bought," he said.

Aside from selling off all or part of the company, Rumpff would not speculate on other means by which Baan could raise equity.

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