JDA: No really, we can pay for it

In a sign of how rocky the credit market has become, JDA Software Group took the highly unusual step Tuesday afternoon of issuing a press release to confirm that it has the financing to pull off its planned $461m acquisition of supply chain management vendor i2 Technologies. Among other moves, JDA added Wells Fargo to the loan syndicate. According to terms of the early August deal, JDA was planning to borrow up to $450m from Credit Suisse and Wachovia. As Wachovia reeled due to its own risky loan portfolio, market participants began questioning Wachovia’s ability to help finance JDA’s purchase. That uncertainty knocked i2 shares, which were trading near JDA’s bid of $14.86 earlier this month, to as low as $11.50 on Wednesday. The stock snapped back after JDA’s release hit the wire, rebounding to about $13.50 on Tuesday afternoon. (As an aside, we wonder how many arbs got crushed in that swing.) i2 shareholders are slated to vote on JDA proposed deal on Nov. 6.

Courting deals

Just how often is legal discovery a form of M&A due diligence? We asked ourselves that question on July 2 when IBM shelled out an undisclosed amount of money for Platform Solutions (PSI) after the two companies had battled each other in the courtroom since late 2006. Big Blue’s initial suit alleged patent infringement, while PSI’s countersuit raised questions of antitrust concerns.

Of course, we would never suggest that Big Blue simply bought off PSI, using its vast cash reserves to quiet a critic. And even if that was IBM’s motivation, we can hardly fault the company for determining that money spent to move its mainframe business ahead through acquisition has a higher potential ROI than just writing checks to lawyers.

With that case closed (as they say in the courtroom), we wonder if a similar scenario will play out at i2 Technologies. As we’ve noted in the past, the supply chain software vendor has run into a heap of problems, prompting it a year ago to hire JPMorgan to advise it on ‘strategic alternatives.’ One of those problems got resolved recently when SAP agreed to fork over $83m to settle a nearly two-year-old patent infringement suit. (To put i2’s legal windfall into perspective, consider that the settlement is twice as much as the company has earned in the past two years combined.) While we initially figured a buyout shop as the likely acquirer for i2, we now wonder if the settlement from SAP is merely a down payment on an acquisition of i2.

Courtroom drama

Parties Legal issue Outcome
IBM-Platform Solutions Patent infringement IBM acquires PSI, undisclosed amount
SAP-i2 Patent infringement SAP pays $83m settlement, all charges dropped

Source: The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase and SEC

i2: The king watches an auction

Nearly three years after getting re-listed on the Nasdaq, i2 Technologies may well find itself taken off the exchange again. While accounting mistakes got the supply chain software vendor bumped the first time, a sale of i2 is likely to end its 12-year run as a public company sometime soon. Having shopped itself for a year now, i2 said last week there are ‘ongoing talks’ with two interested parties.

In our view, a far more important sign that the company is ready to sell is the fact that it knocked founder Sanjiv Sidhu from his spot as chairman of the company. Removing Sidhu is key to getting any deal done, in our view, because few software executives have dominated their companies to the degree that Sidhu has at i2. He had served as the company’s chairman for two decades since cofounding i2 in a Dallas apartment. He only gave up the CEO title three years ago. (Not even an SEC investigation into shady accounting – and a subsequent $10m fine paid by i2 – could dislodge Sidhu from his seat of power earlier this decade.)

Of course, any deal for i2 still has to flow through Sidhu. He owns 5.5 million, or 26%, of the company’s 21.4 million shares outstanding. And while he may be content to let the company’s ‘strategic review’ drag on, other large shareholders may not be as patient. Hedge funds BlackRock and SAC Capital Advisors both own about 1.9 million shares of i2 and are likely to push the company to get a deal done. (JPMorgan is advising i2 in the process.) Despite the tight credit market, we still think i2 will get snapped up by a private equity shop rather than a strategic acquirer.