Private-equity group Attachmate buys Novell for $2.2 billion

Offer a 9% premium over Friday closing price; deal expected to be finalized next quarter

Private-equity group Attachmate Corp. will purchase enterprise infrastructure software vendor Novell (NASDAQ: NOVL) for $2.2 billion, or $6.10 per share. Novell announced Monday it has agreed to the buyout offer and that the deal is expected to close in next year's first quarter. The purchase price is 9.1 percent higher than Novell's Friday closing price of $5.59. Novell shares were up 36 cents, or 6.4 percent, to 5.95 in early Monday trading.

Attachmate is owned by an investment group led by Francisco Partners, Golden Gate Capital and Thoma Bravo. The private equity group said it will run Novell as two business units: Novell and SUSE. Those units will be joined with the group's other holdings, Attachmate and NetIQ, though no further details were provided. “The broad portfolio of products and technologies gives Attachmate Corporation the ability to deliver comprehensive solutions ranging from information security to cloud computing for the benefit of leading enterprises globally," David Golob, a partner at Francisco Partners, said in a statement. Novell also said Monday it has agreed to sell some intellectual property assets to CPTN Holdings LLC, a consortium of technology vendors led by Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) for $450 million in cash. While Novell shares are up 35 percent this year through Friday's close, that increase was due in large part to an unsolicited takeover bid last March by Elliott Associates LP, a hedge fund that offered $5.75 a share. While the offer was rejected, Novell announced it would consider other acquisition proposals. Since the beginning of 2006, Novell shares were down 36 percent through Friday. The stock's high-water mark over the past decade was 14.06 in February 2004. Founded in 1979 and based in Waltham, Mass., Novell has seen its revenue shrink significantly in recent years as the company's share of the enterprise software market has diminished. Founded in 1982, Attachmate is based in Bellevue, Wash.

Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies and trends, legal issues, leadership changes, mergers, venture capital, IPOs and technology stocks. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisNerney.

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