SkillSoft Settles Suits

While not admitting wrongdoing, business and IT training sofware maker SkillSoft will pay $44 million to rival National Education Training Group (NETg) to settle two long-running lawsuits.

In 1998, NETg claimed SkillSoft and certain executives, who formerly worked at NETg, had taken NETg trade secrets. Then, in 2001, NETg filed a second action, alleging patent infringment.

SkillSoft will pay NETg, a subsidiary of The Thomson Corp. $22 million now and $22 million next year. The firm also agreed to delay specific modifications to its IT courses for an undisclosed period of time.

In exchange, Naperville, Ill.-based NETg dropped the suits against SkillSoft and its employees.

“(The agreement) allows SkillSoft to move forward without the continued disruption and uncertainty that accompanies this type of litigation,” said Chuck Moran, president and CEO of the Nashua, N.H., firm.

Because of the settlement, as well as matters related to its GoTrain acquisition, SkillSoft is lowering its financial guidance for fiscal 2004.

Previously, the company expected a net loss of 22 cents to 23 cents per share. SkillSoft now forecasts a net loss of between 66 cents and 67 cents per share (excluding the impact of any future lawsuits or acquisitions).

SkillSoft expects to end the fiscal year with between $50 million and $55 million in cash.

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