Integrity buys Premier Computer for around £4m


Irish-owned software and financial services holding company, Integrity Holdings, has purchased the Dublin based Premier Computer Group for a figure thought to be in the region of £4 million (€5 million).

Integrity, which is quoted on the US Nasdaq stock exchange, says this is the first in a series of acquisitions which Integrity has targeted in the Irish software market place. It is currently in negotiations with three other Irish companies, with a view to potential buyouts.

The Premier purchase was completed through an equal offering of cash and Integrity stock. Premier, which recorded sales last year in excess of £5 million (€6.3 million), currently employs 60 computer professionals at its offices in Ringsend, Dublin, and Birmingham. Integrity has said all of the current staff and management will be retained, and it will now be basing its group headquarters at Premier's Irish facility.

The Integrity group currently employs over 250 people between Ireland and the UK, and the management team, dominated by Irish executives, holds a 10 per cent stake in the group.

Integrity launched on the Nasdaq last August and it will publish its first set of quarterly results at the end of March. Since August it has spent £10 million sterling on completing five acquisitions and group sales for 1999 are expected to exceed £40 million (€50.8 million). The strategic investments have allowed Integrity expand its offering to specialist markets to include hardware, software, networking capability and leasing deals.

Premier, which offers a range of hardware and software products and services to the Irish credit union, construction and print and packaging industries, will now conduct its core programming activities centrally. Expert activities will continue to operate through its subsidiary companies, Premier Information Systems, Premier Software and Progress Systems.

According to Mr Paul Carroll, chief financial officer of Integrity, employment levels are expected to rise significantly over the year, in line with Premier's programming restructure in Ireland and demand for further personnel at its new Irish headquarters.

Mr Carroll says Irish software companies have proved attractive to Integrity "from a tax point of view". "Our acquisition goal is to acquire companies with mission critical software, a large user base, and large recurring income," says Mr Carroll.

Premier is a leading producer of credit union software, one of the fastest growing software sectors, and the acquisition will help to extend its current base from Ireland into the UK.