Vector’s velocity

With all the bidding and buying, it’s hard to keep straight what’s going on with Vector Capital. Already this year, the tech buyout shop has made several offers for down-and-out companies. It even got one through last week, as portfolio company Tripos announced a $57m purchase of drug development software maker Pharsight. The deal is expected to close by year-end.

However, Vector’s other recent M&A moves, most of them coming as unsolicited offers, haven’t been as straight-forward. It made an on-again, off-again run this summer at Corel, a half-decade after taking it private and two years after spinning it back onto the public market. (We would note that Corel shares have never traded as high as they did at the IPO in spring 2006.) Vector also bid for troubled content management vendor Captaris, but lost out to the acquisition-hungry Open Text. The $131m deal is expected to close before year-end, and Captaris shares are trading as if the transaction will go through.

In addition to those mixed efforts, Vector has made an unusual two-pronged approach at Israeli security company Aladdin Knowledge Systems. First, it offered to buy Aladdin outright, offering $13 for each share it doesn’t already own. (Vector is Aladdin’s largest shareholder, holding some 14% of the company.) Then, Vector offered to pick up just Aladdin’s digital rights management (DRM) business. The DRM business is the most-attractive unit at Aladdin, and would fit nicely with SafeNet, which Vector took private last year. Perhaps not surprisingly, Aladdin has said ‘thanks, but no thanks’ to both unsolicited options, and has retained Credit Suisse to advise it.

Selected Vector transactions

Year Company Price Market
2008 Precise Software (Symantec) Not disclosed Application performance management
2007 SafeNet $634m Encryption security
2006 Tripos $26m Pharmaceutical industry software
2003 Corel $122m Desktop productivity software

Source: The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase