The banking software industry is still trying to sort out the implications of Computer Associates International Inc.'s bold move almost two weeks ago to take over Newtrend LP, the venture it co-owns with Newtrend Group of Orlando.

Computer Associates, which is based in Islandia, N.Y., has not yet consummated its intended buyout of the 50% of the partnership held by Newtrend Group, which leaves Newtrend and its customers waiting for the outcome and its meaning to them.

Computer Associates' bid was characterized as a right of first refusal after a third party had offered to buy Newtrend LP, which markets Infopoint software products.

One source close to the issue said Morgan. Stanley Venture Capital Group is the outside bidder, but neither Computer Associates nor Newtrend officials would confirm it. Andy Cooper, a vice president for the venture capital group, also refused to comment on any involvement.

Opinions among users of the Infopoint and Newtrend-Miser software packages were mixed.

A banker from a small thrift that uses Newtrend's Miser2 software said he has experienced "abysmal" service and looked forward to dealing with a big player like Computer Associates.

Other Newtrend customers seemed more satisfied with their experience and expressed concern about their business passing to a less specialized, more impersonal corporation.

Robert Smik, vice president of Main Line Federal Savings Bank in Wayne, Pa., and a Miser2 and check processing customer of Newtrend, said, "We might be reduced to a bit player in a huge operating company. If CA cut development and support staff to use [the Miser business] as a cash cow, a separate business unit, then that's going to affect me."

But Mr. Smik also said the proposed takeover could "be the best thing to happen to us," since the savings and thrift business has long been the bread-and-butter for Newtrend and still performs well.

A community banker close to Computer Associates said he had been told that the deal is as good as done. It has been strongly rumored, he added, that Computer Associates may well turn around and sell all of Newtrend's business except for the Infopoint software, which was Computer Associates' contribution to the joint venture. Another source said this is indeed as a possibility, and Computer Associates may be investigating this option.

Computer Associates sought to dissolve the partnership last year, but executives there contended they only wanted their IBM-based Infopoint software back.

"Charles Wang [Computer Associates' CEO] has about as much use for a piece of software running on a Unisys box as he has for chicken pox," the banking source said, referring to the computers on which Miser runs.

Lawrence Nawrocki, vice president and manager for information services at Liberty Bank, Middletown, Conn., and a member of the Miser users group executive committee, said Newtrend provides the best available software for small banks and thrifts and has expanded support services. But the legal wrangling between the partners has had an impact, he said, and a takeover could provide needed stability.

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