Adobe has agreed to purchase electronic-forms software and service provider Accelio in an all-stock deal valued at $72 million.

Bruce Chizen, president and CEO of Adobe, said: "This acquisition positions Adobe as a leader of business-process solutions, which is the logical next step in the evolution of our ePaper platform. The combined companies can supply our customers with complete end-to-end e-forms solutions."

Accelio, launched in 1982, has 650 employees and 7,000 customers worldwide in the financial services, banking, manufacturing, utilities and public-service sectors, Chizen said. Accelio's customers in more than 50 countries around the world include Microsoft, Citibank, American Express, and 70 per cent of the Fortune 100 companies.

Jobs losses Adobe expects to have Accelio integrated into the company by June, and plans to absorb 250 Accelio employees into Adobe, Chizen said.

Adobe will combine Accelio's server-based electronic forms software with its Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) technologies, Chizen said, though he declined to forecast when any of those integrated products may hit the market.

Acrobat and ePaper are Adobe's fastest growing businesses, according to Chizen, and the company expects the market for electronic forms to exceed $3 billion by 2003, Chizen said. "We expect Accelio to add $30 million to $35 million to the company in fiscal year 2002," he revealed.

Kevin Francis, Accelio's CEO, said Adobe's strategy for expanding its ePaper software business is "complimentary with our approach".

"The combined strength of our two companies will result in a more complete enterprise-class solution than either company could have on its own," Francis said.