Calif. firm acquiring ConQuest Software


ConQuest Software Inc., a Columbia-based creator of programs to manage computer data bases, said yesterday that it will be acquired by Excalibur Technologies Corp.

Excalibur, based in San Diego, Calif., will be the surviving company in the merger, but there are no plans to relocate ConQuest's 35 employees, said Edwin R. Addison, ConQuest's chief executive officer. If anything, he said, the merger should add people to the Maryland operation.

Mike Kennedy, chief executive officer of Excalibur, will become CEO of the combined company, while Mr. Addison said he will remain with the combined company as executive vice president.

The transaction will come in the form of a special issuance of 1.4 million shares of Excalibur stock, plus an option for an additional 600,000 shares. Based on Excalibur's stock price at yesterday's close of $16.50, up 75 cents, the transaction would be worth $23 million in stock and $9.9 million in options. But because resale of the stock is restricted for an unspecified time, the value of the deal will likely change over time.

Mr. Addison said the merger brings together two leading companies with different strengths in the field of data base software. ConQuest, which reported revenues of about $1.8 million last year, sells a program for search and retrieval of textual data bases. Excalibur, a publicly traded company with $10.8 mil lion in annual sales, offers an "electronic filing cabinet," with a powerful program for searching for images.

ConQuest is a privately held company founded in 1989 by Mr. Addison, a former part-time adjunct professor of computer science and electrical engineering at Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory, and Paul Nelson, a former student of his.

Mr. Addison said it put its first commercial product on the market in 1993 and has had considerable success in selling to government agencies and on-line services. He said Prodigy's Homework Helper function, which lets students ask questions of an encyclopedia-like data base in everyday English, incorporates ConQuest software.

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