British tech trio set to scoop millions more: Regulator sets scene for full-scale US takeover war for Blue Prism
Three British tech bosses will be hoping to secure an even greater windfall then expected after a bidding war threatened to break out over their software firm.
Jason Kingdon, Alastair Bathgate and David Moss were already set to rake in more than £130m between them, after US private equity firm Vista Equity Partners tabled a £1.1billion offer for Blue Prism.
But that sum is set to climb, after the Takeover Panel yesterday set the scene for a full-scale bidding war. The deal-making watchdog ordered SS&C, a rival suitor that gatecrashed Vista’s offer earlier this month, to either make a formal offer by next Thursday or walk away.
On Thursday Vista – founded in 2000 by American tycoon Robert Smith – upped its own offer to £1.2billion, trying to ward off SS&C before a battle began.
The new offer means Blue Prism’s chairman and chief executive Kingdon will pocket £73.8m – up from £66.5m. Co-founders Bathgate and Moss will earn £57.5m and £18m respectively when they sell their stakes. But they will be hoping that SS&C, a US tech firm, comes back with an even better offer before the Takeover Panel’s deadline.
Warrington-based Blue Prism, which makes technology for companies to automate office tasks, initially agreed a £1.1billion takeover deal with Vista in September. Blue Prism was due to hold a meeting on November 19 where shareholders could vote on the deal – but it had to cancel its plans after SS&C bowled in with its own approach. But SS&C has failed to come up with a formal bid.
Tycoon: Robert Smith with wife Hope Dworaczyk
Blue Prism has rearranged its vote on the Vista deal for December 9, and the Takeover Panel said SS&C has until December 2 to make a move. Blue Prism’s investors will be hoping SS&C comes back with a bigger offer – and not just because they stand to pocket a larger windfall.
Vista’s deal has angered share – holders. The private equity predator warned it would slash jobs if it bought Blue Prism. It also refused to commit to Blue Prism’s UK headquarters. It wants to merge Blue Prism with Tibco, a Silicon Valley-based data analytics firm it bought for £3.1billion in 2014.
Critics have branded the deal ‘private equity at its worst’. But Kingdon, a serial entrepreneur who joined Blue Prism in 2008, said: ‘Vista and Tibco recognise the strength of what we have built and the exceptional products and services we provide.’