Koch Industries Pours $2.5 Billion into Business Software Maker Infor
Koch Equity Development, the investment arm of Koch Industries, is paying $2.5 billion for a big stake in Infor, which sells financial and manufacturing software to businesses.
With this investment, Koch will get four seats on the Infor board; four others will be controlled by current investors Golden Gate Capital, Summit Partners; and one will be held by Infor chief executive Charles Phillips.
Privately-held Koch Industries claims more than $100 billion in annual revenue which, as Phillips noted pointedly in an interview with Fortune, is more than Oracle, SAP, Salesforce (CRM), Workday (WDAY), and NetSuite combined. (But who’s counting?) That revenue comes from constituent companies, including Georgia Pacific, Molex, Koch Minerals, and Flint Hills Resources.
Georgia Pacific is a longtime Infor customer, which is how these talks got started, Phillips said.
The deal should give Infor the financial heft to compete better with larger software rivals, like Oracle and SAP (SAP), Phillips noted. The fact that business software companies are consolidating at a rapid pace—Oracle just completed its $9.3 billion buy of NetSuite, for example—no doubt helped drive this investment.
Businesses use Infor software to manage inventory, accounting processes, and logistics.
At the same time, Infor, which was built on a stable of acquired software packages that have been rewritten over the past few years, gives Koch a better digital story. Much as General Electric (GE) is trying to transform itself into a high-tech power, so are other older companies, like those owned by Koch attempting to recast themselves as digital players.
“Traditional companies all want to transform themselves and interact with their customers in a digital way, but don’t have the expertise to do that,” Phillips said. Infor gives Koch that expertise.
Koch wanted a company big enough to scale, but small enough to move quickly, Phillips continued.
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Infor employs about 15,000 people and claims 90,000 customers worldwide. The company also says it ended its last fiscal year on April 30, 2016, with $700 million in cash.
Phillips, formerly president of Oracle (ORCL), joined Infor six years ago. He drove the company’s transition of software development and deployment to Amazon (AMZN) Web Services, divesting itself of its own data centers. That move made the company more attractive to suitors, he said.
“We had a lot of people looking at us,” Phillips said, declining to elaborate further.
Note this story was updated to reflect the makeup of the Infor board.