Waiting on Lawson

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Lawson Software is about to be sold, according to the Wall St. Journal. Infor, a Georgia-based software company, is said to be the winning suitor.

But the bigger question is what happens to Lawson’s St. Paul presence? Nobody, so far, is talking about that because the deal hasn’t been announced yet. But downtown St. Paul watchers are like Vikings fans; thinking that things like this are bound to end badly.

But maybe not. The Georgia company has dozens of companies and offices spread around the world and doesn’t appear to be the type to close out-of-town properties and move everyone to Georgia. The company already has one facility in Minneapolis (SoftBrands).

As of last fall, the company had 700-800 employees working at its St. Paul headquarters. Any economies of scale in a takeover may cut into the Minnesota workforce.

By most accounts, the Lawson addition to St. Paul has been a decent investment. Former Mayor Norm Coleman lured Lawson to downtown St. Paul, offering to build the company’s headquarters for $101 million, then selling it to a real estate firm for about half that in 2000, keeping the retail space — known as Lawson Commons –and the parking ramp in city hands.

Although one parcel on the sidewalk property has been problematic, most of the rest of the retail space seems to be relatively full with a mixture of chain and high-end restaurants. The area around Landmark Center, where Lawson is located, is among the downtown’s brightest spots.

The city is already facing a likely challenge downtown in late 2012. Macy’s committed to staying downtown when taxpayers paid for a $6.3 million loan to renovate the store. The loan is forgiven if the store stays downtown through Dec. 31, 2012. After that, the company is free to leave.

  • Jeremy

    For a similar example, take a look at the various companies with Minnesota operations aquired by Oracle in the past decade – Retek, Stellent. Some trimming and consolidation (back-office functions like HR, etc), but a portion of operations still in state. Buying a software company, then trying to move everyone is like buying a handfull of sand. You may end up with the product, but the knowledge is gone.

  • JackU

    Buying a software company, then trying to move everyone is like buying a handfull of sand.

    That’s a great way of putting it.