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Wealthy investors face off in battle for Espreon as IT sector consolidation continues

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Melbourne investors Alan Schwartz and Jacob Weinmann are pushing ahead with their plans to acquire legal and property services company Espreon, which counts billionaire Richard Pratt among its shareholders.

Melbourne investors Alan Schwartz and Jacob Weinmann are pushing ahead with their plans to acquire legal and property services company Espreon, which counts billionaire Richard Pratt among its shareholders.

Schwartz and Weinmann’s Vectis Group has launched a fresh takeover bid for Espreon, after making an initial bid in July but dumping this offer in early November.

The new bid was prompted after Espreon announced it would sell its corporate service and Billback divisions to Reckon for $18 million, and take a $22 million writedown as a result of the sale.

Schwartz says the deal “confirms there has been a major fall in the value of Espreon” and as such, Vectis has dropped its takeover offer from 62c a share in August to just 40c a share.

Schwartz says the offer should still remain “extremely attractive to Espreon shareholders”.

Espreon’s board said it is considering Vectis’s offer, but described it as “unsolicited and highly conditional”.

Vectis already holds more than 19.7% of Espreon.

The deal is the latest in a string of takeover and merger plays. In October, United States-based database giant Oracle bought software group RuleBurst Holdings and its subsidiary Haley in a deal worth $150 million, while UXC made a $23 million bid for listed IT services firm Ingena.

Accounting software company MYOB is also locked in a takeover battle with private equity firm Archer Capital.

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