Iris On The Block?

London (Thomson Financial) — 3i Group and Bridgepoint Capital are considering rival bids for UK accounting software supplier Iris, which could fetch 250-300 mln stg, according a source familiar with the situation.

“The attraction for bidders is a stable cash flow,” the source said. “It's the same market as Sage Group.”

The source said there was a deadline for bids later this week.

Iris, which is backed by private equity firm HgCapital, has insisted it wants to remain independent, despite growing speculation the company will be swept up in the IT industry consolidation.

Earlier, Iris declined to comment on the bid speculation.

Iris, which supplies accounting software and services to more than 40,000 businesses and 9,000 accountancy practices, has forecast revenue of around 45 mln stg for 2007/8.

Trade names linked with the Datchet, Berkshire-based business, include Sage and Microsoft Corp, although the source said some trade buyers had been put off by the company's valuation, which they thought was too high.

Bridgepoint said it declined to comment on market speculation while 3i could not be immediately reached.