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Avid buys Sibelius for a song

Shareholders score $23m

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Sibelius, the world’s favourite music notation software, has a new owner. Avid Technology, the US video editing firm, is shelling out $23m cash (£12.2m) for London-based Sibelius.

The surprise here is that Sibelius went so cheaply: around one-and-a-half times turnover. Just about every British secondary school - and many primary schools - and anyone doing a music degree will have a copy of Sibelius. The company claims 180,000 registered users worldwide, and it must have a large pool of pirated copies that it could convert to paying customers at some point.

It is doing pretty well from the paying customers. In the year to 30 April 2006, the firm made £818,000 ($1.54m) profit before tax (PBT), up 50 per cent on 2005. Sales were £8.2m ($15.45m), so PBT as a percentage of turnover was 10 per cent, up from eight per cent in 2005.

The balance sheet looks healthy too. Or it did at the end of April, when the company reported net assets of £2.45m ($4.6m). These are mostly liquid - i.e. real - assets: cash in bank and aged debtors minus money owed creditors. There was also £350,000 ($660,000) in stock. Presumably, all or most of the cash will go to Sibelius shareholders - or they really did let the company go for a song.

Sibelius will operate as a standalone unit within Avid's DigiDesign audio division. In due course it will offer bundles incorporating products from its new parent. These include M-Audio keyboards and microphones. ®

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