Auction action

Contact: Brenon Daly

With one bidding war over a Nasdaq-traded company wrapped up last week, two new skirmishes broke out on Monday. Both Borland and MathStar received conditional offers of higher prices than had previously been floated for the companies. The bid-and-raise process at both these otherwise-neglected companies indicates the M&A market has recovered notably from its low point earlier this year.

In the larger of the two transactions, Borland said in a proxy filed in support of its existing agreement to sell to Micro Focus that it has received a nonbinding ‘expression of interest’ from an unnamed buyout shop. The offer – which is conditional on the firm completing due diligence on the application lifecycle management software vendor – has the firm paying $1.20 for each share of Borland. That tops Micro Focus’ offer in early May of $1 for each share of Borland.

Micro Focus’ bid, which has been blessed by the boards of both companies, came after it first showed interest in picking up Borland in July 2007, according to the proxy. Meanwhile, the proxy indicated that the unnamed financial acquirer only contacted Borland on May 21 of this year. The buyout firm added that due diligence would take about two weeks, and that its offer was not conditional on financing. Borland said in the proxy that it has opened its books to the unnamed suitor.

Meanwhile, after being in play for more than a half a year, MathStar attracted the interest of Tiberius Capital, a Chicago-based fund that offered to buy half of the company at $1.15 per share. That tops an existing offer of $1.04 for each MathStar share from another company. We would note both of these deals come after a seven-week bidding war over SumTotal Systems, which saw the final price soar 50% above the opening bid.