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Danka purchase takes it to Britain

St. Petersburg-based office equipment company Danka Business Systems PLC was organized in Britain seven years ago.

But Danka hasn't done any business in the United Kingdom _ until now.

Danka announced Monday that it has acquired an English company in a $13.5-million deal that marks its entrance into Europe and its first foreign acquisition.

"This is a substantial one for us," said Danka treasurer William T. Freeman. "It's not our largest (acquisition) but it's probably in the top five . . . and it's very significant."

Danka's acquisition of Saint Group PLC comes after about 18 months of shopping for a European company to purchase, Freeman said.

"We see a lot of opportunity in Europe," he said.

Freeman characterized Saint Group's market share in Europe as small but promising. The company has about 230 employees in four offices.

Under the terms of the deal, Danka swapped 1.1-million of its American Depositary Receipt (ADR) shares for all outstanding Saint Group stock.

Freeman said the deal should not adversely affect Danka's remaining ADR shares or the company's earnings. Danka earned $20.5-million in its fiscal year ended March 31, up sharply from $4.1-million in the previous year.

It also should not result in any significant changes at the company's St. Petersburg headquarters operations, he said.

Danka was organized as a British company in 1986 _ mainly for tax and investment purposes _ by company chief executive Daniel Doyle. Doyle created the company from the former Gulf Coast Business Machines of Tampa, and has overseen its growth to the second-biggest independent distributor of office equipment and supplies in the nation.

Locally, Danka employs about 500 people, Freeman said. Nationally, its 134 offices employ more than 2,600.