Clarus on the Block?

The procurement management software maker hires U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray to assist the board in "exploring strategic alternatives" to better maximize value for stockholders.

Procurement management software maker Clarus Corp. announced last week that it hired U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray to assist the board of directors in "exploring strategic alternatives" to better maximize value for stockholders.

Clarus is currently in preliminary discussions regarding a potential "value enhancing strategic transaction" that will enable the company to become part of a larger organization with a more expansive platform, according to a letter sent to shareholders from Steve Jeffery, chairman of the board.

Analysts close to the company have pointed to Clarus partners J.D. Edwards & Co. and Commerce One Inc. as potential suitors.

Neither JDE nor Commerce One returned phone calls for comment. However, Commerce One seems the least likely suitor.

In April the company laid off 30 percent of its employees, including management, following disappointing first quarter results.

On Monday Commerce One, of Pleasanton, Calif., announced that Dennis Jones, president and chief operating officer, will leave the company and resign his board post on June 30. Likewise, Peter Pervere, chief financial officer, will leave at the end of this month.

Clarus, of Atlanta, is currently embroiled in its own snarl, battling a group of rebel shareholders that last month nominated three people to serve on Clarus seven-member board of directors.

The nominations, hotly contested by the existing board, will be voted on later this month at the companys annual meeting.

The group of dissident shareholders--labeled as such by the current board--holds about 5.5 percent of Clarus outstanding shares.

The dissidents, led by Warren Kanders, said they decided to pursue the shareholder seats because of Clarus bleak stock performance over the past two years.

On April 24, Clarus reported first quarter revenues of $3.9 million and a pro forma net loss of $5.2 million, or 33 cents per share, beating First Call consensus estimates of a 37 cents loss per share.

Clarus has lost money in the preceding four quarters as well.