Sterling Partners aids Mosaid

Contact: Thejeswi Venkatesh

Earlier this month, Wi-LAN indicated it would ‘pack up and move on’ if Mosaid Technologies’ shareholders did not accept its sweetened $42 per share unsolicited offer. But in a rather unusual turn of events, it is Mosaid that has moved on. On Friday, the chip technology company announced an agreement with buyout shop Sterling Partners to go private at $46 a share in cash. (Sterling’s bid values Mosaid at about 10 times trailing EBITDA and represents the highest price for the stock in more than a decade.)

Ontario-based Mosaid has many characteristics that make it a good LBO candidate. For instance, it generated $32m in operating cash flow last year. Even more importantly, that cash flow has been fairly predictable thanks to fixed payment agreements with the likes of Hynix Semiconductor, IBM and Samsung. (During the recession-hammered years of 2008 and 2009, Mosaid still generated about the same level of cash from operations.)

And finally, the company has a robust patent portfolio of 2,800 patents. As we have seen in a number of deals recently, IP is increasingly playing a role in M&A, whether it’s the acquisition of Nortel Networks’ patents by a group of companies led by Apple, or the subsequent $12.5bn purchase of Motorola Mobility by Google, the second-largest tech transaction of 2011. Mosaid’s large – and growing – portfolio of patents could well add a bit more to Sterling’s return, when the private equity firm looks to exit this deal.