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Brit RPA upstart Blue Prism falls into arms of US tech holdings biz SS&C for £1.24bn

Software automation specialist escaping London Stock Exchange

The board of Brit robotic process automation specialist Blue Prism is recommending a £1.243bn cash bid by Bolt Bidco, the subsidiary of tech holdings SS&C that trumped a £1.1bn offer from Vista Equity Partners (VEP).

VEP had approached the London Stock Exchange-listed software maker in September with a view to purchasing Blue Prism and merging it with Tibco, the integration and business intelligence outfit it also owns.

However, some investors complained the price low-balled the stock – SS&C then entered the fray in November by stumping up £143m more in cash. An increased bid late last month by VEP still wasn't enough to keep the negotiations going and directors acted accordingly.

Jason Kingdon, chairman and CEO at Blue Prism, said: "Blue Prism was an early pioneer in building the RPA sector and today is a market leader, working with over 2,000 organisations worldwide.

"While as a standalone enterprise we have built an impressive business, the opportunity presented to combine Blue Prism with SS&C will bring us access to significant capital resources and investment in R&D alongside access to SS&C's extensive 18,000 customers."

The buy price of 1,275 pence per share is a 53.2 per cent premium on the closing valuation of Blue Prism stock on 27 August, the last business day before VEP sent across its first offer.

The automation platform developed by Blue Prism is designed to connect humans and a variety of software robotics with systems, cognitive tools, applications, and tech including machine learning.

As for SS&C, Bill Stone, bigwig at the Nasdaq-traded investment management and services operation, said Blue Prism's wares will be used internally and in conjunction with its own automation software Chorus to automate "increasingly complex tasks."

Blue Prism only listed on AIM in 2016 and is up against bigger beasts in the field, including UiPath and Automation Anywhere, not to mention the entrance of Microsoft, SAP, Oracle, Salesforce, and others.

RPA is forecast to be worth $2.9bn worldwide in 2021, up from just $125m in 2016, but Blue Prism's share is relatively small: turnover was £141.4m in fiscal 2020 ended 31 October. In the first half of this financial year ended 30 April, turnover was £80.4m.

Research company Forrester has said there will be only one eventual winner in the RPA race – and that is Microsoft.

Megabuyte analyst Lee Pruitt said of today's news: "Our take on the combination with SS&C is that, on the one hand, it narrows the target market largely to SS&C's financial services and healthcare customer base but, at the same time, it could provide a focus niche where it can develop a perhaps needed competitive advantage when up against larger peers." ®

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