SS&C Technologies Holding has bid £1.2bn to buy Blue Prism, the robot process automation specialist that agreed less than two months ago to be taken private by Vista Equity Partners in a sale valued at £1.1bn.
The "preliminary approach" regarding a "possible cash offer of 1,200 pence" per share from SS&C was made on 10 November, Blue Prism confirmed to the City. The board is now giving the new suitor "due diligence access equal to that" provided to VEP in late September.
The latest offer is subject to the satisfaction or waiver of numerous pre-conditions and there is no certainty that a final bid will be made, London Stock Exchange-listed Blue Prism said.
"Whilst the directors of Blue Prism continue to believe that the Vista Offer is in the best interests of Blue Prism shareholders and are not withdrawing their recommendation of it at this stage, in light of the SS&C Proposal, the Board consider it to be in Blue Prism shareholders' interests to adjourn the Court Meeting and General Meeting in order to explore further the approach from SS&C."
That meeting, scheduled for 19 November, is being postponed until the directors set a new one.
Jon C Davies, analyst at TechMarketView, pointed out that although the board at the RPA vendor had approved the sale to Vista, it had faced opposition from shareholders, including activist investor Coast Capital Management, which felt the offer lowballed Blue Prism's valuation.
No such voice of dissent was heard from the New-York based investor this time around. "We believe that the bid by SS&C for Blue Prism will, if successful, help transform SS&C into the clear tech leader (and therefore services leader) in the fund admin space," said Coast Capital Management founding partner James Rasteh.
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The RPA software business is forecast by tech analyst Forrester to be worth $2.9bn in 2021, up from a paltry $125m in 2016 – the same year Blue Prism launched an IPO on AIM. Automation Anywhere and UiPath are the two giants of the sector, although Oracle, SAP, Microsoft and others have tried to muscle in on the act.
Forrester said there will be only one winner... and that is the Beast of Redmond.
As Rob Warensjo, Megabuyte principal analyst, said when VEP first bid for the business, Blue Prism didn't attract the same interest from investors as bigger RPA players and the sale would have marked a "less-than-spectacular ending for Blue Prism's time on the public markets."
There may be a few more twists and turn in this tale yet. ®