Echoes of Oracle in Infor’s reach for Lawson

Contact: Brenon Daly

Now that Lawson Software has agreed to a sale to Infor Global Solutions, it’s perhaps worth speculating about just how much Charles Philips learned about the art of M&A during his previous job. Philips, of course, currently serves as CEO of Infor after seven years at Oracle, which has a reputation as a (how to say it?) ‘disciplined buyer.’ The connotations of that description probably depend on which side of the table you sit on. At Oracle, the term is a compliment meaning ‘fiscally responsible’ while the view from the buyside might hold that they are ‘cheap.’

In any case, Philips’ proposed ‘take-under’ of Lawson, which got formalized on Tuesday, carries many of the hallmarks that some folks associate with deals done by his former shop: quick process, relatively low valuation and a confident ‘one-and-done’ offer. Recall that it was just six weeks ago that Infor, which is backed by Golden Gate Capital, lobbed an unsolicited offer of $11.25 per share for Lawson. And even though shares of the old-line ERP vendor traded $1 above the bid in recent weeks, Infor stuck to its original offer.

Provided the deal gets done, the acquisition marks a new era at Infor, with a new chief executive setting its course. Before Philips joined Infor last October, the consolidator had dramatically slowed its dealmaking, announcing just three deals over the previous four years. (And the recent purchases were much smaller ones at that.) Lawson stands as Infor’s largest-ever acquisition, one that will boost the company’s revenue by roughly one-third to some $3bn. Just the sort of move Oracle might have made when Philips was there.

PE firms back at the table

Contact: Brenon Daly

The buyout barons might not be as powerful as they were before the Credit Crisis, but that doesn’t mean the financial buyers can’t elbow aside their rivals from the corporate world. Earlier this week, Golden Gate Capital topped an existing agreement that Conexant Systems had with fellow chipmaker Standard Microsystems. While it wasn’t unusual for private equity (PE) firms to take auctions when credit was flowing cheap and easy, it’s been relatively rare in the past two years.

Terms call for Golden Gate to hand over $2.40 for each share of Conexant, giving the deal an equity value of roughly $180m. (Additionally, the company carries $86m of net debt.) The buyout firm’s all-cash offer topped a cash-and-stock bid of $2.25 per share from Standard Microsystems. The new agreement has a ‘no shop’ clause and is not conditional on financing. It also carries a $7.7m breakup fee, exactly the same amount that Standard Microsystems is pocketing for its trouble.

A 7% bump in acquisition price may not seem like much, but it could be an early signal that PE firms are getting much more aggressive in deals. That’s actually what corporate development executives told us they expected in 2011 from their PE rivals. In our annual survey, nearly four out of 10 (38%) corporate buyers said they expected more competition from buyout shops, compared to just 13% who said the opposite.