Invensys to sell Baan

Struggling software vendor Baan Co. NV is up for sale, parent company Invensys PLC said as it announced plans to divest a number of non-core operations.

London-based Invensys purchased Baan, headquartered in the Netherlands, in August 2000, after an accounting scandal left the once top-tier enterprise resource planning (ERP) vendor in tatters.

Under Invensys’ umbrella, Baan has drifted in and out of profitability, but it stabilized its operations and rebuilt its management team. For the last several months, Baan has been laying the groundwork for its September release of Gemini, the code-named next version of its ERP system, tailored for companies in the electronics, industrial machinery and equipment, aerospace and defense, and automotive industries.

Baan is one of nine units Invensys says it will partially or wholly divest in order to focus its investment resources on what it perceives as its best growth opportunities. The company’s sole core division will be its Production Management unit, which offers automation, control and process optimization systems for industrial customers.

Invensys also plans to continue developing its Rail Systems business, which sells control systems to rail, wind power and electronics manufacturers.

Likely Baan suitors include fellow enterprise software developers SSA Global Technologies Inc. and PeopleSoft Inc., AMR Research Inc. analysts John Bermudez and Randy Weston speculated in a research note. Another potential future for Baan could be a return to independence as a privately held company, through a purchase by a venture-funded group, they said.

“Life will go on, just as it did when Invensys bought Baan. Baan is a solid product and a valuable property; no matter who gets it, it will still be taken seriously,” the analysts wrote. “AMR Research expects this all to play out in weeks, if not days. Baan will have a new home by summer, we are certain. In the meantime, users should continue with their plans.”

Invensys said it will comment further on its divestiture plans on May 29, when it releases its fiscal-year results.