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Regulator sets scene for full-scale US takeover war for Blue Prism

British tech trio set to scoop millions more: Regulator sets scene for full-scale US takeover war for Blue Prism

Three British tech bosses will be hoping to secure an even greater windfall then expected after a bidding war threatened to break out over their software firm. 

Jason Kingdon, Alastair Bathgate and David Moss were already set to rake in more than £130m between them, after US private equity firm Vista Equity Partners tabled a £1.1billion offer for Blue Prism. 

But that sum is set to climb, after the Takeover Panel yesterday set the scene for a full-scale bidding war. The deal-making watchdog ordered SS&C, a rival suitor that gatecrashed Vista’s offer earlier this month, to either make a formal offer by next Thursday or walk away. 

On Thursday Vista – founded in 2000 by American tycoon Robert Smith – upped its own offer to £1.2bn, trying to ward off SS&C before a battle began. 

The new offer means Blue Prism’s chairman and chief executive Kingdon will pocket £73.8m – up from £66.5m. Co-founders Bathgate and Moss will earn £57.5m and £18m respectively when they sell their stakes. But they will be hoping that SS&C, a US tech firm, comes back with an even better offer before the Takeover Panel’s deadline. 

Warrington-based Blue Prism, which makes technology for companies to automate office tasks, initially agreed a £1.1bn takeover deal with Vista in September. Blue Prism was due to hold a meeting on November 19 where shareholders could vote on the deal – but it had to cancel its plans after SS&C bowled in with its own approach. But SS&C has failed to come up with a formal bid.

Blue Prism has rearranged its vote on the Vista deal for December 9, and the Takeover Panel said SS&C has until December 2 to make a move. Blue Prism’s investors will be hoping SS&C comes back with a bigger offer – and not just because they stand to pocket a larger windfall.

Vista’s  deal has angered share – holders. The private equity predator warned it would slash jobs if it bought Blue Prism. It also refused to commit to B l u e Prism’s UK headquarters. It wants to merge Blue Prism with Tibco, a Silicon Valley-based data analytics firm it bought for £3.1bn in 2014. 

Critics have branded the deal ‘private equity at its worst’. But Kingdon, a serial entrepreneur who joined Blue Prism in 2008, said: ‘Vista and Tibco recognise the strength of what we have built and the exceptional products and services we provide.’