Geac plans cutbacks after failed search for buyer

By Craig Stedman, Computerworld |  Software

Struggling business applications vendor Geac Computer Corp. disclosed late yesterday
that it hasn't been able to find a buyer and is now putting together new cost-cutting
plans that will include "a substantial reduction" of its workforce.

In a conference call broadcast today on the Toronto-based company's Web site,
John Caldwell, Geac's president and CEO, said no formal acquisition offers were
submitted during an "extensive" search process that began late last
summer. Caldwell blamed the lack of interest on falling stock values for software
vendors in general and "a tougher market" for getting acquisition-related
financing.

Caldwell, who joined Geac last October and was named its interim CEO a month
later, said the company plans to implement a series of cost-cutting actions
within the next few weeks. Geac also will focus its resources on its existing
user base and a smaller number of business units that "can demonstrate
positive earnings and revenue growth," he added.

"We just have to get more cost out of this place to improve our profitability,"
Caldwell said. He declined to comment on how many workers will be let go in
the upcoming layoffs, saying only that it will be "a significant number."
The cutbacks and other restructuring moves are expected to be completed by the
time Geac's fiscal year ends next month.

This will be the second round of layoffs at Geac, which currently has about
4,100 employees after an earlier 12 percent workforce reduction that was carried
out last fall. Other moves being considered as part of the new restructuring
program include possible office closings and reductions in administrative expenses,
Caldwell said.

Earlier this month, Geac reported a net loss of $141.7 million from continuing
operations for its fiscal third quarter ended Jan. 31, on revenue of $139.1
million. That was the third straight quarter in which it lost money, although
the third-quarter loss was just $2.2 million before taxes and one-time charges.

The goal of the planned cutbacks is to make sure that all of Geac's business
units are profitable during the next fiscal year, Caldwell said. However, he
noted that the third quarter is traditionally Geac's strongest three-month period
and said the company is still "in a turnaround situation."

The uncertainty over whether the company would be sold has made it "very
difficult" for users to finalize buying decisions, Caldwell acknowledged.
Yesterday's announcement is meant to end that uncertainty, he said, adding that
he hopes the upcoming cutbacks can be made "without impacting on our ability
to serve our customers."

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