Blackboard, the maker of learning and education software for enterprises and schools, announced Friday that it is being acquired by a group of investors led by Providence Equity Partners, a private equity firm that specializes in media, entertainment, communications and information investments. Providence has also invested in several for-profit educational companies, like Education Management Corporation and Archipelago Learning. The acquisition is an all-cash deal valued at $1.64 billion, with Providence assuming approximately $130 million in Blackboard debt.
The educational software giant, which went public on NASDAQ back in 2004, will be dishing out $45.00 in cash for each share of common stock owned by its shareholders as a result of the acquisition. According to Blackboard’s press release, the company has been “evaluating strategic alternatives” to its current trajectory in an effort to provide its stockholders with better value (than presumably what they’ve been getting up to this point).
Since rumors over a potential acquisition began percolating back in March, and the company more broadly announced that it was seeking prospective buyers on April 18 of this year, Blackboard’s stock has largely hovered above $40.00 per share. (Compared to its being priced at $37.16 a share on April 18, and averaging over $35 the last few years, $45.00 a share at acquisition does indeed seem to be relatively positive return on investment for its sharedholders.)
According to Blackboard’s press release, the transaction must be approved by a majority of stockholders, and is subject to other closing conditions and regulatory approvals, but the deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2011. Once the transaction is finalized, Blackboard will return to being a privately held company. Blackboard said that it will remain headquartered in Washington and will continue to be led by its senior management team; however, when a company is purchased by a private equity group, and goes back to being a private company, changes are presumably ahead.
Although the announcement made no specific mention of cost or personnel cuts, these tend to be an inherent part of this kind of acquisition, so Blackboard may be on its way to a bit of a shakeup — or at least some streamlining and trimming — in the coming year.
Yet, both because Blackboard got a head start on the market and has become fully entrenched in universities and across secondary education systems and because its user experience has left room for improvement, many education startups have popped up with their own models aimed at snatching up some of Blackboard’s market share, like CourseKit, Instructure, Nixty, to name a few.
For more, check out Blackboard’s announcement here.
Blackboard designs learning and education software for enterprise/ school groups. Blackboard is a global leader in enterprise technology and innovative solutions that improve the experience of millions of students and learners around the world every day. Blackboard’s solutions allow higher education, K-12, professional, corporate, and government organizations to extend teaching and learning online, facilitate campus commerce and security, and communicate more effectively with their communities. Founded in 1997, Blackboard is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with offices in North America,...
Providence Equity Partners is a leading private equity firm focused on media, entertainment, communications and information investments. The firm manages over $22 billion (Nov. 2008) in equity commitments and has invested in more than 100 companies globally since its inception in 1989.