Stock Watch: Inference Falls on eGain Buyout

Inference Corp. (Nasdaq: INFR) was down 2 3/16 to 8 1/16 in morning trading today following news that the Internet support services company will be acquired by eGain Communications Corp. (Nasdaq: EGAN) for about $78.6 million in stock.

eGain, which was up 1 to 52 1/2, said the acquisition will allow it to more than double its sales, organization and customer base. “By integrating Inference’s knowledge-management technologies with our entire product line — including e-mail, live Web, telephone, voice-over Internet protocol and self-service solutions — eGain can deliver a more relevant and rewarding experience at every touchpoint with the customer,” said Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ashutosh Roy.

The market for Internet-based support services is booming, eGain said, citing forecasts by International Data Corp. that the global customer call-center service market will reach $58.6 billion by 2003, and e-support services will total $14 billion, up from $2 billion in 1998.

Inference shareholders will receive 0.1865 eGain common shares for each of their common shares, giving them ownership of about 5.5 percent of eGain’s shares on a fully diluted basis. The price was based on the average closing price of eGain shares over a 20-day period.

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