Britain’s Sage loses out to US firm in race for Australian IT company

BRITAIN’S Sage has lost out in the race to buy Australian software firm MYOB, after it was beaten by a US private equity house.

Bain Capital has agreed to purchase the accounting software company for about $1.3bn (£790m), trumping both Sage and private equity outfit Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.

Sage was forced to abandon its bid because of a drop in its share price and a lack of shareholder support, sources said yesterday.

It had appeared to be favourite after entering exclusive talks with MYOB’s private equity owners, after outbidding its rivals with an offer of about A$1.4bn (£885m).

MYOB, which stands for “mind your own business”, was being sold by Archer Capital and HarbourVest Partners, which bought it for about £287m in 2008.

The deal is Bain’s biggest acquisition in Australia, and gives the Boston firm a majority stake in the country’s leading business software developer.

It signed a definitive agreement with buyout group Archer Capital to acquire MYOB, the companies said yesterday.

Sage’s disappointment comes after figures showed Britain’s total outward investment fell 75 per cent last year to £6.7bn.

A number of multi-billion pound UK firms have also been snapped up by foreign investors. Earlier this month Northumbrian Water was bought by Hong Kong’s Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings for £2.4bn and last year Cadbury was taken over by American cheesemaker Kraft in an £11.9bn deal.