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Sage Group Said to Be Close to Buying Software Maker MYOB

(Updates share price in fifth paragraph.)

By Brett Foley and Jonathan Browning

Aug. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Sage Group Plc, the U.K.’s biggest software maker, is close to buying Australia’s MYOB Pty Ltd., potentially the largest acquisition in its history, said two people with knowledge of the matter.

The deal may be announced as early as today, said the people, who declined to be identified because negotiations are private. Melbourne-based MYOB, owned by buyout firms Archer Capital and HarbourVest Partners LLC, may fetch about A$1.3 billion ($1.4 billion), according to one of the people. The deal may still fall apart, one of the people said.

Sage, which has made at least 10 acquisitions since 2008, disclosed its overtures to MYOB earlier this week. Providers of business software and information technology services are extending their global reach through acquisitions to get ahead in technologies such as cloud computing.

Lucy Legh, a spokeswoman for Newcastle Upon Tyne, England-based Sage, declined to comment, while no one at HarbourVest was available to comment. Archer Capital didn’t respond to a call outside regular business hours. A spokeswoman for MYOB didn’t immediately return an e-mail seeking comment.

Sage rose 4.4 pence, or 1.9 percent, to 236.1 pence as of 8:11 a.m. London trading.

In the past five years, there were more than 970 takeovers of European software companies, amounting to over $31 billion in deals, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The largest was SAP AG’s 2008 takeover of Business Objects SA. Buyers have paid a median multiple of 10.8 times the targets’ earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, based on 70 deals.

Last month, Paris-based Cap Gemini SA completed the purchase of Prosodie SA, a maker of software for e-commerce and telecommunications in a deal valued at 382 million euros ($547 million).

Sage Chief Executive Officer Guy Berruyer said in May that acquisitions are “back on the agenda.” Sage’s biggest acquisition so far was the $423 million purchase of Best Software Inc. in 2000.

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