Infosys buys British consulting firm for $753 mn (Second Lead)

August 25th, 2008 - 11:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, Aug 25 (IANS) IT bellwether Infosys Technologies Ltd Monday announced acquisition of the British-based leading SAP consulting firm Axon Group plc for $753 million (Rs.33 billion) in an all-cash deal.The acquisition process is expected to be completed by November.

“The strategic combination of our groups will accelerate the realisation of our common aspiration - that of becoming the most respected provider of business transformational services in the global market place,” Infosys CEO Kris Gopalakrishnan told reporters at a hurriedly convened media conference here.

The 14-year-old Axon is a global player in business transformation services using SAP software as a strategic platform for enterprises across verticals in 30 countries worldwide. It has about 2,000 employees.

Listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE), the Surrey-headquartered Axon posted net profit of $37.4 million (Rs 1.6 billion) on revenue of $378.3 million (Rs.16.6 billion) for calendar year 2007.

“We believe the acquisition of Axon will enable us to achieve some strategic corporate objectives, including the expansion of our consulting capabilities required to engage with the large business transformation programmes of our marquee clients,” Goplakrishnan said.

The acquisition process involves purchase of Axon’s entire equity at six British pounds per share through a scheme of arrangement.

“The all-cash deal includes 19.4 percent premium to the closing price of 5.025 pounds on the last business day prior to the announcement, 31.7 percent premium to the average price of 4.56 pounds over the last three months and 33.1 percent premium to six-month average price of 4.51 pounds. The fully diluted equity value of Axon is 407.1 million pounds,” Infosys chief financial officer V. Balakrishnan said.

As per the scheme, Axon founders Mark Hunter, Donald Kirkwood and Paul Manweiler, who collectively hold 17.9 percent of the total equity, will seek approval of the British courts for de-listing from the LSE and transfer of the company to Infosys.

The remaining equity (82.1 percent) is held by institutional and retail investors, including some key employees (0.2 percent).

“Axon buyout will give us a global reach, scale and financial strength to participate in large deals that are transformational for clients’ businesses,” Gopalakrishnan noted.

Axon’s assets are valued at 140.4 pounds, including cash reserves of 25.3 million pounds. Its liabilities are valued at 53.9 million pounds.

“Against the background of the global economic environment and increasing consolidation in the IT services industry, the combination with Infosys represents a compelling proposition. Infosys’ offer represents an attractive cash premium and provides value to our shareholders,” Axon chairman Roy Merritt said in a statement.

The transaction was handled by financial advisor ABN-AMRO Corporate Finance Ltd and legal advisor Linklaters LLP.

The Axon buyout comes four years after Infosys made a maiden acquisition of Australian IT services provider Expert Information Services Pty Ltd for $22.9 million (Rs.1.05 billion) in December 2003 and a year after acquiring the three business process outsourcing (BPO) divisions of the Netherlands-based Philips NV’s for $28 million (Rs.1.1 billion) in July 2007.

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