SBI Inks Acquisition Deals with Scient, Lante


E-business solution provider SBI and Co. was hot on the acquisition trail last week, snatching up financially beleaguered Web integrators Scient and Lante.

SBI and Scient, which last week filed for bankruptcy, have hammered out a deal under which SBI will purchase certain Scient assets, including staff in the United Kingdom and the United States; office space in Dallas, New York and Chicago; and seven clients, whose identities SBI executives would not disclose.

SBI, based here, intends to give Scient up to $4.9 million to keep its operations running pending the completion of SBI's purchase. The companies will present details of the proposed acquisition to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court and expect it to be approved in the coming months.


SCIENT'S SWAN SONG
Scient Chairman Bob Howe is expected to take a position at SBI and Company, the e-business solution provider that moved to buy Scient's assets on the heels of the once-thriving Web integrator's Chapter 11 filing last week.

Scient Chairman Bob Howe and about 200 other Scient employees are expected to accept jobs at SBI, according to Coleman Barney, SBI's co-founder and senior vice president. Howe's role, however, is as yet undecided, he added.

Barney said SBI will have about 700 employees upon completion of the Scient deal.

"Our major vertical [industries are manufacturing, telecommunications, retail and transportation," he said. The acquisition of Scient could add a fifth vertical focus--financial services--to SBI's roster, Barney said.

In the Lante deal, SBI said it plans to complete a cash purchase of all Lante's publicly held outstanding stock shares for $1.10 per share, or about $42 million, a 100 percent premium over Lante's closing price of 55 cents per share last Thursday. The deal is scheduled to begin within 10 business days and is expected to close during the third quarter.

The acquisition of Lante, according to SBI, adds skills in extended enterprise, framework development, B2B integration solutions, enterprise application development, portal work and technology foundation development and deployment.

These are the latest in a series of solution provider acquisitions by SBI, which also purchased assets of WebFlow in May, Emerald Solutions in October 2001 and marchFirst in June 2001.

With the WebFlow acquisition, SBI gave a boost to its SAP practice.

In the case of Emerald, an e-business solution provider founded in 1997, SBI got clients including AT&T and Verizon, as well as more staff and office space in Dallas and Warren, N.J.

SBI acquired people, offices and accounts from marchFirst's New York, San Francisco and Portland, Ore., offices, gaining clients including American Airlines and Mattel along the way.

"You have seen us do three deals with distressed companies [over the past year, and that is only a fraction of the deals that have been presented," said Barney, referring to Scient, Emerald and marchFirst.

Following the marchFirst buyout, "we never lost business and we never lost money bringing that deal in," Barney said. In the same vein, business attained in the Emerald purchase "has continued to be profitable."

MARIE LINGBLOM contributed to this story.