Heading in and out at Vector

Contact: Brenon Daly

Some eight months after the opening bid for RAE Systems was announced, it looks like Vector Capital continues to have the inside track in taking private the maker of gas detection monitors. The San Francisco-based buyout firm earlier this week raised its offer for RAE Systems to $2 per share, or roughly $120m. That marks the third time that Vector has bumped its bid in its competition with original bidder Battery Ventures.

Vector’s current offer adds some $25m to Battery’s initial price, and is more than twice the level where RAE Systems shares traded over the year leading up to the first announcement last September. Perhaps most crucially, RAE Systems executives, who own roughly 31% of outstanding shares, have thrown their support behind Vector by giving up shares for no consideration as well as rolling over a large portion of their equity holdings.

While Vector works to add RAE Systems to its portfolio, we understand that it may be looking to free up a spot there as well. Several market sources have indicated that Vector has retained Jefferies & Company to advise it on a possible sale of Corel. Running at more than $200m in sales, Corel has a number of products for graphics design, as well as WordPerfect and WinDVD, among other titles.

Vector has owned Corel since 2003, though it did sell a bit of the software company to the public in 2006 before buying back that chunk three years later. Given that Corel is a fairly large portfolio of mostly mature businesses, we suspect that the most likely buyer would be a fellow PE shop. However, the process is still in its early days, according to a source.