UK tech firm Blue Prism hits back over claims bosses sold out to private equity on the cheap
Blue Prism has entered a public spat with investor Coast Capital over its takeover by a US private equity giant.
The company, which makes tech to automate repetitive business tasks, has denied claims by Coast Capital that its board was biased and was selling the firm on the cheap.
Coast, which owns 2.8 per cent of Blue Prism, has claimed that management only agreed to the sale because of the huge pay day on offer, adding that they were not looking after the company’s best interests.
Windfall: Blue Prism chairman and chief exec Jason Kingdon (pictured) has denied claims the firm was sold on the cheap
But Blue Prism said the offer process ‘was led by an experienced board with the support of highly qualified, independent advisers’.
It added that the interests of directors and public shareholders ‘were aligned’.
Blue Prism has agreed to be taken over by Texas-based Vista Equity Partners for £1.1billion, with chief executive Jason Kingdon and co-founders Alastair Bathgate and David Moss set to earn £130million between them. But opposition has grown since the deal was announced last week.
Top ten shareholder Hawk Ridge Capital Management has said it will vote against, saying that, like Coast, it believes the offer is too cheap.
David Brown, at Hawk Ridge Capital Management, said: ‘It is a very low price based on our analysis.’ Hawk Ridge, based in Los Angeles, owns 3.5 per cent of shares, making it the ninth largest shareholder.
The deal has also sparked outrage in Warrington where the firm is headquartered as Vista has said there will be job cuts following the deal.
Charlotte Nichols, Labour MP for Warrington North, slammed the takeover.
She said: ‘This windfall for the previous bosses of Blue Prism is a bitter wind for their employees, including my constituents in Warrington.
‘They now face the threat of losses of skilled jobs, including possible closure of the Warrington HQ.’
Nichols added: ‘A quick buck for short-term private equity sharks is bad luck for long-term committed employees and the jobs market in our town.’
Other top shareholders yet to speak out include Jupiter Asset Management, Columbia Threadneedle and Fidelity Management.
The UK has been under attack by pandemic predators this summer with supermarket Morrisons taken over by Clayton Dubilier & Rice and Ultra Electronics being bid for by US buyout group Advent.
Vista is run by American tycoon Robert Smith who is married to a former Playboy model Hope Dworaczyk and whose fortune stands at £5billion.
Smith’s reputation was tarnished last year when he faced an inquiry over a failure to pay US taxes on £148million in assets, intended for US charities, that were transferred through offshore entities.
Last year Smith reached an agreement with the Department of Justice, agreeing to pay a fine of £102million.