Blue Coat Systems will be taken private in a $US1.3 billion ($A1.2 billion) all-cash acquisition by a group of investors led by Thoma Bravo. Blue Coat Friday said its board of directors had approved a definitive agreement and that its focus will remain on web security and WAN optimization.
The Thoma Bravo-led investor group also includes the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan via its investment arm, Teachers' Private Capital. Under the terms of the agreement, Blue Coat shareholders will receive $25.81 in cash for each share of common Blue Coat stock -- a 48 percent premium based on Blue Coat's Dec. 8 closing price and a 62 percent premium based on Blue Coat's 60-day trailing average.
The acquisition adds to a year full of major moves for Blue Coat. In August, the company parted ways with then-president and CEO Michael Borman roughly a year after Borman took over the top job and named Gregory Clark, formerly president and CEO of Mincom, as its new CEO. At the time, Blue Coat had also reported a sizable drop in sales and profits for its fiscal first quarter.
Clark said being taken private will better support Blue Coat's growth in its key product areas.
"Blue Coat has strong, differentiated products for protecting enterprises from the ever-increasing levels of web-based security threats and for accelerating and optimising applications and rich media content, such as video, over their networks," Clark said in a statement. "Our partnership with Thoma Bravo will assist Blue Coat in more aggressively realising the opportunities in two markets by providing a platform that enables greater focus on the business that supports the future growth of the company."
David Hanna, Blue Coat's board chairman, said Blue Coat's board conducted a six-month "comprehensive review of all strategic options available to Blue Coat" and that the Thoma Bravo offer presented an attractive valuation to the company's shareholders.
Orlando Bravo, managing partner at Thoma Bravo, said in a statement "as a private company, Blue Coat will be better positioned to innovate at an accelerated rate and achieve a higher level of growth."
The changes to Blue Coat at a corporate level coincide with a period of channel growth for the company, which sells 100 percent through solution providers. A shakeup in its channel executive ranks several months ago pushed out Jim Harold, vice president, worldwide channel sales, and decentralised Blue Coat's channel management in favour of regional executives.
Laurie Usewicz, vice president of Americas channel sales at Blue Coat, said her team is excited about the acquisition.
Reached by CRN Friday, she said she plans to address Blue Coat's Americas channel partner council later in the day and reassure partners that none of Blue Coat's channel growth priorities will change.
"Part of the conversations with Thoma Bravo were around the commitments we've made to the channel, and they agreed with them," Usewicz told CRN. "There won't be any deviation. If anything, our channel growth will be further enhanced. This is really exciting."
Thoma Bravo has been an active acquirer of channel-facing technology companies for some time, particularly security-centric companies. In another public-to-private acquisition, Thoma Bravo bought SonicWall for $717 million in 2010.
Blue Coat expects the transaction to close in the first calendar quarter of 2012. Goldman Sachs is advising Blue Coat during the acquisition.