iSoft considers auction

Healthcare supplier iSoft, at the forefront of the troubled NHS National Programme for IT, is considering putting itself up for auction rather than having a direct sale.

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Healthcare supplier iSoft, at the forefront of the troubled NHS National Programme for IT, is considering putting itself up for auction rather than having a direct sale.

The news comes despite the company receiving an improved offer of £166m plus debt from Australia’s IBA Health on Wednesday, 24 August, because iSoft has not yet taken a decision on the offer.

IBA’s increased offer is the latest in a three month long bidding war between the Australian health software company and Germany’s Compugroup. In July, Compugroup launched a rival offer worth £160m to counter IBA's £140m original offer that had been approved by iSoft’s shareholders.

In a statement, iSoft said it would consider an auction under the UK’s Takeover Panel, which highlights in its rules that a competitive situation between bidders in the later stages of an offer period may be resolved through auction.

"At this point in time neither offeror has declared its offer final and, as such, either offer may be increased or otherwise revised," iSoft said. "If the competitive situation continues to exist, the Board expects the Panel to announce the terms and timing of such a procedure in due course."

iSoft is the supplier of the delayed Lorenzo care records system, at the heart of the NHS’s £12.4bn National Programme for IT (NPfIT) in three out of the five regions into which the programme is divided up. In May, CSC, the lead contractor in these regions, used a veto power it held under its NHS contract to block the £140m sale of iSoft to IBA because it felt this would not support the delivery of Lorenzo, which is already running more than two years late.

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