Guardian IT receives offer from US rival

The US firm, which also beat off competition from Hewlett Packard to buy Comdisco last year, has made an offer of 80 pence a share to Guardian IT’s shareholders. That values Guardian IT at £56m, compared to a £1bn market capitalisation at the height of the dotcom boom.

SunGard will also take on Guardian IT’s £111m debt and if the offer is approved by shareholders and European regulators the deal is expected to be tied up within 90 days.

In February this year, KPMG forensic accountants were appointed to investigate accounting irregularities at the disaster recovery specialist, after the company admitted it had discovered accounting discrepancies in its 2000 and 2001 accounts, resulting in £21m of unforeseen charges.

Guardian IT is the market leading disaster recovery company in Europe but has been hit hard following a probe into accounting irregularities and a profit warning earlier this year. In its results for the year ended December 2001 the company posted a loss of £94.5m compared to a loss of £3.1m a year earlier.

SunGard will gain around 2700 customers in the region, including the Buckinghamshire Building Society and Beaverbrooks jewellers, through the acquisition.

‘This transaction is an attractive opportunity for SunGard to strengthen its availability services business in Europe,’ said James L Mann, SunGard’s chairman and chief executive in a statement.

‘Combining Guardian with SunGard Availability Services will create a business better able to serve customers in more geographic locations, offering them access to more facilities, platforms, network capacity and technical personnel.’

The company is audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

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