Ameritech Library Services (ALS) will be acquired by a private investment group led by 21st Century Group and Green Leaf Ridge Company if the board of SBC Communications Inc. agrees. The sale of assets not related to the telephone business has been rumored ever since SBC absorbed Ameritech Corp., ALS's corporate parent.
The name of the company will change, but its management will remain the same. Headquarters will stay in Provo, Utah and the staff of 520 will grow, rather than shrink, because the reconstituted company's goal is to commit a more substantial portion of revenues to product development and sales.
Our own read is that the development is a good one. The library automation industry is made up of small entrepreneurial companies. Subsidiaries of large conglomerates generally have had difficulty responding to rapidly changing market conditions. ALS is the fifth company in the industry to have been sold by a multi-billion dollar corporate parent.
The only well-known figure in the two private investment groups which are seeking the acquisition is John Ware, president of 21st Century Group and formerly the city manager of Dallas. He began his company in 1998 with financial support from Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst, a private equity firm which has completed over $37 billion in transactions.
The acquisition is expected to be completed before the end of the year.