RealTime IT News

SmartForce Grabs Centra Software for $284 Million

SmartForce -- a leader in electronic learning -- agreed to acquire Centra Software Wednesday for about $284 million in stock. The deal, announced after the market close concurrently with SmartForce's earnings, effectively creates an e-learning powerhouse as Centra makes software that helps enterprise employees collaborate.

Redwood City, Calif.'s SmartForce hopes to benefit from Lexington, Mass.-based Centra's applications, which enable real-time, group interaction over corporate networks and the Web. SmartForce also picks up 775 customers, catapulting its customer base over the 3,000 mark, and a combined research and development investment of over $60 million.

Centra's collaboration solutions are designed to facilitate strategic business processes in the enterprise, including product introductions, customer interaction, sales training, hands-on software application deployments, new hire and employee training and change management initiatives.

SmartForce's goal with such a large purchase, ultimately, is to become the primary infrastructure used by enterprises to drive knowledge transfer throughout the corporate world.

"This combination is truly a watershed event for the e-Learning industry," said Greg Priest, chairman and CEO of SmartForce. "Critical mass and scale have become increasingly important as the market's requirements have matured and new market entrants have emerged. By joining together with Centra, we are taking another major step forward in building a company that can become a powerful and enduring franchise. We lead the market today by every significant measure, including customer base, salespeople, breadth of offerings and technology investment."

SmartForce believes the deal will be completed during the second quarter of 2002 and that the acquisition will be one cent accretive to earnings per share for the second half of 2002.

In related news, SmartForce announced that revenues for the fourth quarter were $65.3 million, up 13 percent from the $57.7 million reported a year ago. Net income for the quarter excluding amortization of intangible assets was $2.6 million, or 4 cents per share, which was in line with First Call consensus estimates.

Revenues tallied $261 million for 2001. Net income for the year was $13.2 million, or 22 cents per share.