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divine Buys Eprise for $43.2 Million

While some firms are struggling to stay afloat, others are taking advantage of what has been a sagging economy in recent months.

Given this particularly juicy situation for a potential buyer with reasonably deep pockets, Chicago's divine inc., a dot-com incubator turned software and service provider, Tuesday continued its busy spending spree when it snapped up content management specialist Eprise Corp. for about $43.2 million in stock.

Divine inc. will buy the Framingham, Mass. firm for 54 million shares of its Class A stock, and the purchase price is based on divine's Sept. 17 share closing price of 80 cents. Eprise stockholders are expected to receive 2.4 shares of divine Class A common stock in exchange for each share of Eprise common stock.

divine's strategy was to broaden its content management solution offerings, making it one of the first firms to offer both content management from Eprise -- whose rivals included Vignette Corp. and Stellent, formerly known as IntranetSolutions Inc. -- and content delivery, which it offers vis-`-vis its purchase of e-commerce solution provider Open Market Inc. a month ago.

What divine was specifically interested in was Eprise's popular (150 customers use it to date) Participant Server, which puts content contribution and management in the hands of business users. The server is used by firms looking to build end user-friendly intranets, extranets and public Web sites with content templates and automated approval workflow capabilities.

divine's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Andrew "Flip" Filipowski said his firm penned the deal with the idea to serve businesses that are struggling with the challenge of managing massive volumes of information and distributing it. Filipowski also talked about the synergy between the Eprise play and the August 18 acquisition of Open Market, from which it gained a Java2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE)-based content management and delivery platform.

"Our acquisition of Eprise, as well as our recently announced plans to acquire Open Market, should enable divine to provide our customers with a full range of software applications and services to help them leverage all of their information assets," Filipowski said. "In addition, we expect to integrate the best technology and capabilities of Eprise, Open Market and divine over time to strengthen our enterprise knowledge services."

divine did not say what would become of Eprise's 150 employees, which are based in regional offices across the U.S., as well as in Canada, Germany, and the U.K. The transaction is expected to close during the fourth quarter of 2001.

Indeed, divine has been busy. Since purchasing Open Market for $59.3 million in stock a month ago, divine has also purchased nearly $5 million in assets from marchFirst's Hamburg, Germany operations. Divine's relationship with the deflated marchFirst goes a little deeper than that, too. divine bought struggling marchFirst's Net consulting arm six months ago and last week it let go of about 100 people from the 1,500-member division.

divine's spree of picking up pieces of, or buying whole companies, goes back several months. The firm also grabbed content management provider Fracta Networks in August, as well as infrastructure provider Intira Corp. and communications firm eShare Communications in July.

Editor's note: Boulton writes for Internet News, an internet.com site.