Avid Technology is leaving the 3D animation sector after agreeing to sell its Softimage business unit and product line to Autodesk for $35m (£22m).

Included in the proposed deal are the popular XSI software and 90 employees.

The sale should be completed by the end of 2008.

Avid said that, following a review, it was decided Softimage was no longer part of its strategic plans.

Autodesk will continue to develop and sell Softimage's core product line, while integrating certain Softimage technology into future versions of its systems and products.

The deal was signed yesterday (23 October) and puts Softimage and its main competitor Maya under the same ownership for the first time.

"Softimage has been developing state-of-the-art 3D technology for more than 20 years, and its products are recognized as best-of-breed in the entertainment industry," said Marc Petit, senior vice president, Autodesk Media & Entertainment.

"Upon the completion of this acquisition we will be adding Softimage technology and products to our portfolio, and welcoming one of the most talented teams in the industry to Autodesk Media & Entertainment.

“Both will help us accelerate the work of our Games Technology Group, as we build the next-generation of real-time, interactive 3D authoring tools for games, film and television."

Avid bought Softimage from Microsoft in 1998 for $225m in cash and stock.

The sale was announced as Avid revealed its third quarter financial results. The company said that revenues were $217.1m, down year-on-year from $226.8m.

Avid also reported a GAAP net loss for the third quarter of $66.4 million or $1.80 per share, compared to a loss of $5.9 million or $.14 per share in the third quarter of 2007.

In addition, as part of a major restructure, the company will cut 410 jobs.

This will be the result of a new unified management set-up - as the company brings all its brands together under one roof - and will cost $24 million to complete.