Privately held accounting software firm Open Systems Holdings Corp, Minneapolis is throwing its lot in to the UK and hopes to float on London’s Alternative Investment Market early next week. The company, which has been through several owners since it was formed in 1976, was owned by Unisys Corp in 1990, when it was bought […]
Privately held accounting software firm Open Systems Holdings Corp, Minneapolis is throwing its lot in to the UK and hopes to float on London’s Alternative Investment Market early next week. The company, which has been through several owners since it was formed in 1976, was owned by Unisys Corp in 1990, when it was bought by a management team led by chief executive Michael Bertini. Bertini says the company has US revenues of around $10m, from its Traverse accounting software, but he believes the real growth for Traverse will come from the UK and Europe. As 80% owner of the company, Bertini says he did not want to become a US public company, and believes the product will be better accepted internationally from a European base. The UK holding company, Open Systems Holdings Plc, headquartered in Tunbridge Wells, is looking to raise a minimum of 1.5m to 2.0m pounds, half of which will be spent on marketing the product throughout Europe. Traverse was developed using Microsoft Corp’s Access, and provides a fully featured Windows-based accounting package. Its key selling points, according to Bertini, are that it integrates seamlessly with Microsoft Office, and that it is simple to customize.
Users simply click on Excel spreadsheet when in a Traverse report, and they are taken instantly into the Microsoft spreadsheet, with all the Traverse calculations carried over automatically. The company makes a point of providing source code to its resellers and even end users, so anyone familiar with Access can customize the package and build vertical market applications, which the company encourages. While Access underlies the desktop one- to 20-user version of Traverse, the up to 250 user version is based on Microsoft’s SQL Server. The current release will run under Windows95 but is a 16-bit product. With the release of Office 97, the company says Traverse will be fully 32-bit. Bertini refuses actually to acknowledge Sage Plc and Pegasus Group Plc as major competitors in the UK. He says the market is growing substantially, and there will be enough for everyone. He estimates the market in the UK alone to be around 350m pounds, and he is looking for 5% to 10% of that in the next two to three years. The company is in the process of signing European distributors and resellers. Bertini would not be drawn on pricing of the products, but said they would be competitively priced, presumably against the two companies that he won’t acknowledge as competitors. Open Systems is yet another of that tidal wave of companies on the Microsoft bandwagon, and as such, it says, benefits from the marketing might of Redmond. After flotation, Bertini expects to retain around 60% of the company. The company is advised and the placing handled by Butterfield Securities.