Novell's Pending Private Takeover: Buyouts Are Back

Nov.24.10 | About: Novell, Inc. (NOVL)

By Brenon Daly

The pending take-private of Novell (NASDAQ:NOVL) underscores just how much private equity (PE) activity has rebounded since the credit crisis nearly shut down tech buyouts.

The $2.2bn purchase of infrastructure software and SUSE Linux vendor Novell stands as the seventh PE tech deal so far this year valued at more than $1bn. That’s up from five big-ticket transactions in all of last year and only four in 2008.

What’s behind the buyout boom? The reopened debt market has allowed PE shops to make bigger bets once again. Consider this: With still more than a month left to go in 2010, PE firms have already tallied 264 deals valued at $30.2bn. The spending level is 50% higher than in all of 2009 and tops 2008, as well.

Also adding to the spending totals is the fact that targets are getting richer valuations. We’ve seen a trio of large leveraged buyouts (LBOs) go through this year with enterprise values of 4 times sales or even higher. However, that’s not the case with the latest LBO for Novell. Cash-rich Novell is garnering an enterprise value of $1.2bn, or just 1.5 times sales.

Still, Novell’s LBO price is about 50% higher than where the company was valued at the start of the year.

PE Activity

Year Deal volume Deal value
YTD 2010 264 $30.2bn
2009 301 $19.7bn
2008 249 $24.8bn
2007 305 $118.4bn
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Source: The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase