Advent to Buy Dutch Software Maker Unit4 for $1.6 Billion

Advent International agreed to acquire Unit4 NV for about 1.15 billion euros ($1.6 billion), a deal that will allow the Dutch software maker to continue its expansion outside Europe.

Unit4 investors will get 38.75 euros in cash for each share they hold in a deal supported by both management and supervisory boards, the companies said in a joint statement. That’s 10 percent more than the stock’s Nov. 15 close in Amsterdam. Unit4 jumped as much as 8.7 percent today.

The takeover by Advent, a private-equity firm, will accelerate Unit4’s transition into a provider of enterprise software as a service, said Chris Ouwinga, its founder, who owns 5.6 percent of the software company. Unit4 now has 85 percent of its business in Europe, and Advent’s support will help it expand outside the region.

“We feel that in the future, a substantial part of the growth will come from outside Europe, areas like Asia and Latin America,” Ouwinga said in a phone interview today. “We have a presence in those areas, but we think we should continue to grow in those areas and that requires a lot of capital.”

The offer memo is expected to be published during the first quarter next year, with the deal closing during the first half, said Ouwinga.

‘Fair Price’

The transaction values Unit4 at 12.8 times earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, compared with a median of 15.3 times for its peers, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The company, based in Sliedrecht, Netherlands, has 29.7 million shares outstanding, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Ouwinga said Advent’s bid was the highest received.

“This seems like a straightforward bid and the price is pretty fair,” said Hans Slob, an analyst at Rabobank International. “The multiple seems pretty high so I see a low probability for a higher bid.”

Advent’s planned purchase of Danish software company KMD A/S in October last year is still pending. The Boston-based buyout firm completed the 1.15 billion-euro purchase of 90 percent of France’s Oberthur Technologies in 2011. Ouwinga said Advent has the experience to help Unit4 through its transition and help with its growth plans.

Unit4 soared 55 percent this year through Nov. 15, giving the company a market value of 1.04 billion euros. The shares traded 8.4 percent higher at 38.05 euros as of 10:42 a.m. in Amsterdam.

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