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MPS Group buys ECG

January 24 2008
In a surprising move yesterday, MPS Group Inc. (NYSE: MPS) bought Ensemble Chimes Global in bankruptcy court and plans to operate the system.

Bankruptcy trustee Howard Ehrenberg said MPS will pay $8,075,000 for the company. The court proceedings Wednesday attracted a number of staffing firms. "The very good news for the staffing vendors is the creditor is cooperating," Ehrenberg said. The creditor won't make claims on receivables that are out as long as they are paid to a vendor that is owed, he said. However, vendors that are going to be hurt are the ones whose funds had been received but were taken when the bank account of ECG's parent company, Los Angeles-based Axium International Inc., was swept by the creditor earlier this month.

Jacksonville FL-based MPS said it will continue to run the ECG software and make sure it's working for clients. "Basically, the first order of business is to get all the clients stable on the system they had been used to using," company spokeswoman Tyra Tutor said.

The ECG acquisition should close by the end of the month, she said.

MPS' own vendor management system is Beeline.

"The anticipated acquisition of Chimes' assets will make Beeline the clear leader in vendor management solutions with potential oversight of more than $3 billion in annual contingent labor spend," said MPS President and CEO Timothy Payne. "Chimes' clients and users can now feel comfortable that they will be supported by a large and financially strong public company that has a long-term commitment to providing world-class workforce solutions."

Barry Olson, a former president of Chimes, had been the opening bidder in the sale along with Vedior with an initial bid price of $7.5 million. Ehrenberg said there were only two bidders for ECG, Olson and MPS.

ECG, the largest vendor management system, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on Jan. 9 in Los Angeles. Its parent company, Axium International Inc., filed for Chapter 7 the day before.

Axium acquired ECG for $80 million in February 2007.

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