Acquisition Creates New ERP Giant in AS/400 Market

In a move certain to shake up the AS/400 ERP market, Geac Computer Corporation Ltd. (Markham, Ontario), a global enterprise software supplier, acquired AS/400 ERP and supply-chain vendor JBA International (Rolling Meadows, Ill.). The acquisition, completed on September 21, creates a software giant with annual revenues of more than $1.3 billion, 6,000 employees and a customer base of 30,000. The move unites JBA's industry-focused application approach with Geac's global reach and marketing machine. The acquisition positions JBA as a major contender to J.D. Edwards' dominance in the AS/400 ERP market.

JBA now represents a significant portion of Geac's business and has become Geac's entire ERP division. Last year, according to AMR Research, Inc. (Boston), JBA had revenues of $478 million while Geac had revenues of $311 million.

The JBA name, product and service offerings will remain unchanged. The JBA division will also now manage Geac's Streamline product line, a Windows NT-based solution for the mid-market. "We will continue developing and growing all of those areas within the new business structure and retain the unique characteristics of JBA that our customers and our own people value," says Ken Briddon, formerly JBA CEO and now head of the JBA division of Geac.

The complementary applications of both companies will prove positive for the vertical industries they target. "The continued expansion of the Geac product reach has created one of the top ten software application companies in the world," says Katherine Jones, senior analyst for Aberdeen Group (Boston). "While not a household name like SAP or Oracle, Geac has consistently sought and acquired the best of breed for an ever-growing list of vertical markets."

JBA will continue to focus on the AS/400 ERP mid-market and supply-chain sector with its System 21 product. Also, the company will continue to concentrate on its vertical segments, which consist of apparel and footwear, food and beverage, and the automotive supply and electronics industries. AMR Research ranks JBA in the number one, two, and three positions respectively for these industry segments. Other initiatives include e-business solutions and Windows NT-based ERP and supply-chain solutions. "System 21 is today a competitive choice for a middle market manufacturer, especially within JBA's targeted areas," says Jones.

Geac has publicly stated its commitment to continued product investment for the new JBA-led ERP division, according to Teri Voss, communications director for JBA. "The investment in new product areas, and in our current product will in fact increase, delivering to our customers a wide range of product and services," she says. Aberdeen's Jones, for one, agrees that the acquisition should prove to be very positive for JBA and its customers in the ERP market. "The wedding of JBA to the Geac enterprise offers the ability to more fully develop and broadly market JBA System 21 and to enhance and proliferate the @ctive Enterprise technology," she points out. "The infusion of Geac capital and development, sales and marketing support can positively propel the JBA enterprise into increased profitability."

JBA's @ctive Enterprise series is a new suite of configurable products designed to ease development at individual ERP installations. It includes products such as JBA @ctive Business Intelligence and JBA @ctive Supply Chain Management. "In addition to solid enterprise-wide applicability, JBA brings Geac a significant technological advantage with its recently released @ctive Enterprise business process modeling and work management software," says Jones.