Contact: Brenon Daly
After almost a year of agitation by an activist hedge fund, BMC Software has agreed to sell itself to a group of private equity (PE) buyers for $6.9bn. The take-private of the IT systems management giant, which is the second-largest tech PE deal since the end of the recent recession, will end a quarter-century of public trading for BMC. The offer values the company at a fairly conventional, ho-hum multiple, reflecting the struggles BMC has had in finding any growth.
At $6.9bn, the bid from the consortium – made up of Bain Capital, Golden Gate Capital, GIC Special Investments and Insight Venture Partners – values BMC at 3.2x trailing sales and just 10x trailing EBITDA. As a mature company, BMC throws off a lot of cash, generating some $700m in EBITDA on $2.2bn in sales annually. The relatively rich margin prompts the question of how the company’s new PE owners will be able to boost BMC’s already high cash flow.
The consortium has offered $46.25 per share for BMC. That is only slightly above the level where BMC was trading on its own before hedge fund Elliott Management started its campaign to ‘unlock shareholder value’ at the company. (Further, the price is less than where BMC shares changed hands on their own from late-2010 to mid-2011.) Elliott ended up with a nearly 10% stake in the company as part of its campaign.
Coming just three months after the proposed PE-led management buyout of Dell, the take-private of BMC has a decidedly different structure than most recent PE deals. For starters, it is large – nearly twice the size of other recent tech LBOs and, in fact, it trails only Dell’s $24bn buyout on the list of largest post-recession PE deals.
Additionally, it marks the return of the so-called ‘club deal’ where PE firms team up to take on bigger game. Those deals were relatively frequent before the 2008-09 recession tightened the availability and rates for debt, but fell out of favor recently. Of the five take-privates of US publicly traded tech companies announced in the past two years valued at more than $1bn, four of those have been done by single PE shops, with only one club deal, according to The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase.
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