Activant Solutions, an Austin, Texas, provider of business software, plans to acquire Montreal-based Speedware Corp. The deal is expected to close by the end of March.

Activant isn't a stranger in the electrical market. The company's Livermore, Calif., group serves as the primary contract service provider for several business solutions produced by IDEA, Rosslyn, Va., including the IDX2 electronic network and industry data warehouse (IDW). Activant also hosts IDEA's Industry Retail Database (IRD), a central repository of retail product and pricing data for manufacturers that sell directly to the retail hardware and consumer packaged goods chains.

Additionally, through its plan to purchase Speedware, the company would also have a business software package for electrical distributors. In one of its 2004 acquisitions of software vendors, Speedware purchased Prelude Systems, Addison, Texas, which had started to build a presence in the electrical market.

Activant also has interests in growing its existing business in the lumber and building materials market, the automotive aftermarket, wholesale-distribution, and hardware and home center retailing. By incorporating the Speedware product line, Activant bolsters its offerings in these segments. According to information on its company Web site, the company has supplied Ace Hardware with business software for over 20 years.

Activant's annual revenues top $200 million. The company has approximately 1,300 employees in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland and France.