The Sunday Times reported yesterday (15 December) that BT is in talks to sell Tikit to UK software giant and direct competitor Advanced, in a move that the head of Tikit’s P4W user group tells us would be “a concern” and risk driving customers away.

Advanced is backed by not one but two private equity houses, after Vista Equity Partners sold half its stake to BC Partners for £2bn in August. Advanced had made no secret of the fact that it is again on the acquisition trail and in the summer it acquired Oyez legal forms, which integrates with Tikit P4W. That was followed in fairly quick succession by the purchase of Cheshire resource scheduling provider Kirona and Modern Systems.

We broke the news of that Oyez acquisition here: http://www.legaltechnology.com/latest-news/exclusive-advanced-increases-legal-forms-stronghold-with-acquisition-of-oyez-professional-services/

Advanced and Tikit are clear case management competitors and according to the head of Tikit P4W’s user group, the acquisition would be hugely unpopular with users. Speaking to Legal IT Insider, user group director Kelly Rotherham, who is CEO of Sternberg Reed, said: “I was with Advanced prior to P4W and from my side I would be really unhappy and there are others that would feel the same having previously been with Advanced and moved to P4W. We talk about this in the user group and P4W is seen as a superior product to ALB and their customer service isn’t brilliant and they have a really high staff turnover.

“If Advanced was to buy Tikit there would be concern about what they would be planning to do. It would create a monopoly and I would certainly think about moving to Linetime.”

She adds: “They are in direct competition with one another – there will be an element of the two becoming a bit homogenised – and when there are fewer competitors there is no real push to push the technology forward.”

Advanced has long grown through acquisition, and in the early 2000s sent shockwaves through the sector when, led by CEO Vin Murria, it swept up the likes of IRIS and Videss Legal Office system. Murria sold out to Vista in 2014 for £725m.

You can read some of our coverage at the time here: http://www.legaltechnology.com/latest-news/goodbye-iris-legal-hello-advanced-legal-vinasty-episode-97/

It declined to comment on any of the above and a spokesperson for the company said that any report of its involvement in bidding for Tikit would be pure speculation.

As we’re speculating, while the Times only references one bidder, I would be very surprised if Tikit’s management, CEO Simon Hill and CTO Mark Garnish weren’t lining up their own bid, given that they have made no secret of their desire to acquire the business over many years. Tick tock.

Tikit declined to comment.