What’s the value of advice on the Entrust LBO?

Contact: Brenon Daly

The ‘go-shop’ period at Entrust came and went a month ago, but on Friday the security vendor nonetheless got a richer offer in its three-month-old leveraged buyout. The bidder? Thoma Bravo, the same buyout shop that has had an agreement in place since April to acquire Entrust. Originally, Thoma Bravo offered $114m, or $1.85 per Entrust share, but as the company’s shareholders were set last Friday to vote on it, Thoma Bravo bumped up its bid to $124m, or $2 for each Entrust share. The buyout shop says that is its best and final offer for Entrust.

Thoma Bravo topped itself despite having Entrust’s board unanimously back the initial $1.85-per-share bid. The raise also came despite both of the main proxy advising outfits backing the original offer, which valued Entrust at less than 1x sales, on the basis of enterprise value. If shareholders had actually listened to both Glass, Lewis & Co and Proxy Governance Inc, they would have shortchanged themselves $10m. (And shareholders have already suffered enough by holding Entrust, which has basically traded down over the past four years, with only brief interruptions.)

Undoubtedly, the proxy firms will (once again) throw their support behind the new and improved buyout bid ahead of the shareholder vote, which is slated for July 28. But any endorsement sort of strains credibility given that they already backed one deal that the would-be buyer has acknowledged was too cheap.