Accountancy software firm Sage has insisted it will not be drawn into a £400 million bidding war for a rival Norwegian business.
The Newcastle-based group yesterday said it would not raise its price for Visma, even though private equity firm HgCapital beat its offer on Tuesday.
Sage thought it had the support of the Visma board, but directors of Visma withdrew their recommendation earlier this month because they no longer considered the bid of £334 million to be fair.
The Visma board took that decision after revenues rose by a quarter between January and March, while earnings increased even faster at 43 per cent - smashing its expectations and those of analysts.
Visma signalled that a number of key shareholders were unhappy with the Sage deal because they felt the UK firm was trying to gain control on the cheap. The Sage offer is due to lapse today, with the company repeating in the light of the Hg approach that it will not raise its offer.
Visma has 200,000 customers and is the largest Scandinavian seller of accountancy software to small and medium sized firms.
Its revenues totalled £166 million in 2005.
In the offer document, HgCapital said the Visma board found its bid of £380 million "interesting from an industrial perspective".
This was because HgCapital intended to support the current management in building a world-class software firm whose head office would remain in Norway - in contrast to Sage which wanted to harness Visma to its operations.
HgCapital, which has offices in the UK and Europe and has funds under management of £1.73 billion, made the offer through its Engel Holding subsidiary.