A chippy deal

After more than two months of discussions, Cadence Design Systems put a bear hug on Mentor Graphics on Tuesday, June 17, offering roughly $1.6bn in cash for the smaller chip-design vendor. Under terms of the unsolicited offer, Cadence would pay $16 for each of the roughly 91 million Cadence shares. Cadence said it would cover roughly one-third of the purchase with its available cash, while borrowing an additional $1.1bn. Deutsche Bank Securities is advising Cadence.

The deal – if it gets approved by Mentor shareholders and survives regulatory review – would combine two of the three largest electronic design automation (EDA) companies. Cadence and rival Synopsys are roughly the same size at about $1.6bn in sales last year, which is twice as big as Mentor. (Various pairings of these three players have been discussed over the years.) However, Mentor said later Tuesday that it was not interested in a pairing with Cadence.

Cadence’s approach, which we would characterize as ‘opportunistic consolidation,’ continues a recent trend toward unsolicited offers for underperforming rivals made in a very public way. (Although Mentor has recently trimmed its rather bloated cost structure, the company’s operating margins are less than half the level at Cadence.) The outcome of these ‘bear hugs’ has spanned the possibilities: Iomega recently accepted a raised offer from EMC; Microsoft walked away from its unsolicited bid for Yahoo; and Electronic Arts took its bid for Take-Two Interactive hostile.

EDA deal flow, by year

Year Deal volume Deal value
2005 5 $298m
2006 6 $888m
2007 13 $225m
YTD 2008* 11 $2.7bn

*includes announced Cadence-Mentor transaction. Source: The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase