TechnologyAccounting SoftwareCompetitors slam Sage hypocrisy

Competitors slam Sage hypocrisy

Software giant Sage has this week been buffeted by rival companies over its attempts to block Microsoft's near £1bn acquisition of Navision.

Sage lawyers and managers have carried out a whistlestop tour of Copenhagen, Brussels and London in an attempt to block the deal. The Sage team have spoken to the Danish competition authorities, the EU and the Office of Fair Trading to complain on the grounds of anti-competition.

But the move has been criticised by rivals including ACCPAC for being hypocritical, due to attempts by Sage to acquire Pegasus in 1996, a deal which fell through after complaints of anti-competition – strongly refuted by the Newcastle-based company.

Microsoft is still waiting to receive the green light on its attempt to buy Navision, but it believes the deal will be given the go ahead by regulators.

However, Keith Fenner, vice president and general manager of ACCPAC Europe, Russia and CIS, said: ‘It seems ironic to me that just a few years ago, Sage was at the centre of a similar debate about becoming a monopoly when it tried to take over Pegasus. Clearly Sage is worried about such a big player as Microsoft entering its market – and it has good reason to be.

‘I think the criticism of Microsoft’s involvement in the financial accounting market should be aimed much more at Microsoft’s poor record of integrating new product lines and delivering solutions in line with their own corporate strategy.’

Andy West, managing director of Pegasus Software, added: ‘Why is Sage taking this action against Microsoft? Surely as the market leader it should be confident in its product suite. Instead, it sounds like they are frightened for their market position.

‘The market is about to be opened up for customers, providing them with greater choice and products that continuously evolve to meet their needs.’

Sage would not comment on the accusations of being hypocritical. However, behind closed doors, the Newcastle-based giant is likely to argue is that the two potential acquisitions are markedly different. The two deals are from different times, with different situations and circumstances and competition issues.

What is for sure is that the takeover of Navision has created one of the biggest areas of confusion to hit the IT software industry for some while.

Microsoft had predicted its business would feed on high volume relatively low-cost operating and personal efficiency software.

Philip Taylor, Squaresum executive product director, said: ‘The overlap of products, technologies, partners and market segments within Microsoft, Great Plains and Navision will now mean that nothing can really move forward in this combined subsidiary for at least two years.

‘The time has never been better for best-of-breed developers of collaborative software to do what they do best – deliver technology that provides real business benefits to end users and enables rapid ROI.’

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