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Microsoft licensing giant yanked off market after sales bid fails

Comparex on shelf with boxed software, other dusty things

Shopping trolley. Pic: Mikey, Flickr

The sales process for Microsoft enterprise licensing house Comparex is "ongoing", the parent company has told us, denying claims from multiple industry sources it is dead in the water.

The Raiffeisen Banking Group-owned reseller hired investment banker Jefferies to manage a sales process in May and by September just two private equity firms were left in the running.

An agreement was expected for the end of 2015 but people close to the situation have claimed the talks ended unsuccessfully.

“Comparex didn’t find a buyer and has been taken off the market,” said one. Another claimed the sales process was “bust”.

The reason, we are told, is because neither of the private equity buyers were ultimately convinced the licensing or software asset management strategy was a good bet to make.

“It’s a challenging area,” said a rival Microsoft licensing solutions partner. “The direction of travel for Microsoft is that everyone will be using consumption-based licences through Azure and Office 365 - that negates the need for an Enterprise Agreement”.

The amount of profits Microsoft licensing houses can generate from license reselling has been clipped on multiple occasions in the past four years. Microsoft recently confirmed that it will gradually kill off EAs in favour of Microsoft Products and Services Agreements and Cloud Solution Partner purchasing models.

Comparex is a beast: it turned over €1.77bn in fiscal '14/15, with offices in 31 countries across four continents. Although Microsoft remains its primary vendor, the company resells software from 70 other vendors including Adobe, CA, IBM, Citrix and VMware.

The firm was created in 1986 as a joint venture with Siemens and BASF to sell mainframe systems, but Siemens exited the company two years later. BASF sold a 40 per cent stake to South African service provider Persetel in 1995 and the rest by 1999.

An MBO took place in 2002 in partnership with TDMI, but TDMI went bust in 2009 and following the insolvency, PC-WARE formed the new company Comparex PC-WARE.

Peruni Holdings, a subsidiary of Raiffeisen Informatik – a system integrator which is owned by Raiffeisen Bank – has owned 100 per cent of Comparex since 2011.

A spokeswoman for Raiffeisen Holding NÖ-Wien told us that “as a matter of principle we do not comment on ongoing processes”. ®

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