Mass. company to buy Hunter Group Baltimore software adviser brings price of $158.65 million

Consultants

November 20, 1997|By Mark Guidera | Mark Guidera,SUN STAFF

Hunter Group, a fast-growing, Baltimore-based business software consulting firm, has agreed to be acquired for more than $158 million in stock by information technology consultant Registry Inc.

"We've made 12 different acquisitions this year and this is probably the most important," said Robert E. Foley, spokesman for Newton, Mass.-based Registry.

"We view them as one of the finest organizations around in the software consulting industry," Foley said. "They have a very high-quality management team and will help make us a comprehensive [information technology] solutions company."

Strategic fit

Under the agreement, publicly held Registry will issue 3.8 million of its shares valued at a five-day trading average of $41.71. That gives Hunter a valuation of $158.65 million.

The deal, which is subject to regulatory and other approvals, is expected to close in 45 days.

The agreement ends Hunter's plans to go public. Last month, it filed to sell 4.1 million shares in an effort to raise an estimated $56.6 million to pay down debt and prepare for acquisitions.

"This is a natural strategic fit for us," said Terry Hunter, president and owner of the Hunter Group. "It accomplishes everything we had hoped to accomplish in the IPO."

Founded in 1983, the Hunter Group has about 450 consultants and support staff nationwide that help businesses select and set up "enterprise software," such as PeopleSoft, which manages human resources, accounting and other administrative operations. The company also provides worker training in the use of such sophisticated software.

About 72 percent of Hunter's 1996 revenue came from PeopleSoft-related projects, the company's IPO filing said.

For the first six months ending June 30, the company reported a net loss of $807,000 on revenue of $26.9 million, the filing said.

The firm has regional offices in 11 U.S. cities and others overseas, including Singapore and Sydney, Australia.

Hunter's clients include many large corporations, including AT&T, Glaxo Wellcome and Lucent Technologies.

The acquisition gives the Baltimore software consultant "the opportunity to offer a broader range of services to our clients," Hunter said.

Registry, founded in 1986, employs about 3,300 full- and part-time information technology professionals at 67 offices in the United States and overseas. It reported a profit of $10.9 million on revenue of $324.8 million in 1996.

Registry designs computer systems for Fortune 1,000 clients and provides consultants to show clients how to operate and use them effectively.

By joining with Registry, Hunter gains access to Registry's technological expertise and that of Registry's recently acquired Renaissance Solutions Inc. unit, which provides business strategy consulting services.

The combined companies hope to capitalize on the information technology consulting industry's fast growth by offering a broad menu of consulting services under one umbrella, said Drew Conway, Registry's president and chief executive.

Foley at Registry said the company estimates global demand for enterprise software consulting will grow to $18 billion by next year, up from $11 billion in 1996.

Hunter said his company would operate as a subsidiary of Registry, and that the firm would remain at its Pratt Street headquarters. Employment would be unaffected by the acquisition, he said.

The company, Hunter said, has seen revenue and consultant staffing double every year for the past four years.

Pub Date: 11/20/97

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