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Softchoice Acquired by Birch Hill Equity Partners

martinwolf Analysis:
  • Softchoice Corporation (TSX: SO), a leading North American provider of IT Services based in Toronto, announced today that private equity firm Birch Hill Equity Partners will acquire all issued and outstanding shares for USD 20.00 per share, representing a total equity value of approximately USD 412 million. The USD 20.00 is a 24 percent cash-adjusted premium to the stock’s closing price today, April 22, 2013. Softchoice Logo
  • Softchoice reported revenue of USD 1.1 billion in 2012, up slightly from reported revenue of USD 999 million in 2011.
  • This is the third transaction announced in the IT space in 2013 from public companies that have previously gone private or are seeking to. Dell announced in February that founder Michael Dell and a group of investors including Silver Lake Partners have proposed to take Dell private. CompuCom, which was taken private in 2004 when it was acquired by Platinum Equity Partners and sold again to Court Square Partners in 2007, announced earlier this month that Thomas H. Lee Partners intends to acquire the company — the third PE transfer of ownership for CompuCom since 2004.
  • What Softchoice, Dell and CompuCom have in common is that they are in various stages of transitioning from lower value products and services to higher value services and solutions. The driver behind going private for all three is the need to execute complex, long-term strategies — difficult under the watchful and impatient eye of Wall Street. This option is becoming increasingly attractive to public companies in maturing IT sectors looking for new paths to growth.
  • What sets Softchoice apart is the speed at which it is making its transition. In just the past 16 months, the company introduced its first cloud services offering, its first North American-wide managed services offering and completed its acquisition of UNIS LUMIN, a Canadian company specializing in Cisco networking and managed services. The UNIS LUMIN transaction was valued at approximately USD 23 million.
  • Softchoice also has some additional advantages, including a wide North American footprint and a diverse customer case (it has a strong position in the small to medium sized business market, which it has been diligently expanding).
  • Going forward, we expect Softchoice to grow its services business through both organic and inorganic growth.
  • With its advantages, we expect this transaction to create value for shareholders, as have many of the other PE public-to-private transactions in the IT space in recent years.
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