Takeover speculation boosts iSoft

Australian firm is interested in the troubled UK software developer at the heart of the NHS IT mega-project

Shares in iSoft, the troubled UK software developer which is playing a key role in the NHS's massive IT upgrade programme, rose almost 10 percent on Friday amid speculation over its future.

An Australian health information company called IBA Health revealed on Friday morning that it is considering a bid for iSoft. Earlier in the week, it was reported that talks between iSoft and US group McKesson had faltered over problems with iSoft's Lorenzo clinical health software.

iSoft's shares started the week at 51.75p, and had slipped to 45p by Thursday evening. On Friday, following IBA's announcement, they had risen to 49.5p in afternoon trading.

iSoft was sub-contracted to supply Lorenzo as part of the NHS's National Programme for IT (NPfIT). However, Accenture pulled out of the entire project last year after a leaked email claimed that iSoft had "no believable plan" for the delivery of Lorenzo.

Subsequently, two separate financial investigations have been launched into iSoft, by the Financial Services Authority and the Accountancy Investigation and Disciplinary Board. The AIDB is probing the actions of several current and former executives.

iSoft confirmed on Thursday that it is "continuing to consider a number of options to determine the most appropriate route forward for the company and its shareholders", an indication that it may be keen to find a buyer.