Blackboard, a major LMS provider, accepted a $45-a-share cash takeover bid from a group led by Providence Equity Partners. The deal is worth $1.64 billion, plus the assumption of about $130 million in net debt. Under the deal’s terms, shareholders of Blackboard will receive $45 for each share. The price represents a 21 percent premium over the stock’s closing price on April 18, the day before the company said it was considering a sale.
Blackboard’s board of directors has unanimously approved the deal, but shareholders and regulators must still approve the terms. The buyout will be financed through a combination of stock and debt with Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley providing debt financing.
With the deal, Providence adds to a for-profit education portfolio that includes college operator Education Management Corp. and English language specialist Study Group Pty Ltd.
“Over the past few months, there has been significant speculation about who would buy Blackboard — including rumors about Google or Pearson as a possible new owner,” observes Elliot Masie of the Masie Center. ”This purchase continues a wave of market interest and activity in Learning Systems, following purchases of Learn.com, Plateau and the I.P.O. for Cornerstone. “
Earlier this year, Blackboard acquired the 90 percent of educational services provider Presidium Inc. that it didn’t already own for $53 million in cash. The company’s acquisition by the investor group is expected to close in the last three months of this year. Blackboard’s senior management will remain in place.