St. Paul-based Lawson Software has agreed to a $2 billion buyout offer from the private equity firm Golden Gate Capital and business software company Infor. Company officials announced the agreement this week.
Lawson is a major provider of software to the health care sector and state and local governments, but it is not a software industry giant. The company has annual sales of about $750 million and about 3,800 employees, including 800 in downtown St. Paul. In contrast, Microsoft has about 88,000 employees and has reported nearly $20 billion in revenue for the second quarter of 2010.
Lawson was founded in Minneapolis in the 1970s by Richard Lawson, his brother Bill, and John Cerullo, according to the company website. At the time, most businesses couldn't afford to use computers or pay for software.
"Richard Lawson, however, believed that even the smallest companies would one day have affordable in-house computers. And wherever computers were, software needed to be developed for them," the website states.
Former St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman lured Lawson to downtown St. Paul from northeast Minneapolis in the late 1990s, offering to build the company's headquarters for $101 million. The mayor's involvement attracted opposition from Minneapolis officials who accused the mayor of raiding Minneapolis businesses.
Coleman said the move would help revitalize the St. Paul economy. The city sold the building to a real estate firm for about half that in 2000, but it retained ownership of the retail space and the parking ramp.
Current St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman has spoken with Lawson executives about the acquisition, according to Cecile Bedor, the director of St. Paul Planning and Economic Development.
Bedor said it's "too early to tell" whether the company will relocate, but she's optimistic. "I think the new owners will find value in staying here," she said.
Infor and Golden Gate made its offer for Lawson in March. Golden Gate's affiliate GGC Software Holdings said Infor and Lawson will serve about 75,000 clients combined, including customers in the manufacturing, health care, distribution, and hospitality industries as well as the public sector. GGC said Infor has about 70,000 customers in 125 countries.