Bye-Bye, Novell!

When a company puts itself on the auction block for would-be buyers, you normally expect a large share price pop when the acquisition becomes official. Not so for Novell (Nasdaq: NOVL  ) . In this case, the big pop happened last spring, when the first reports of serious interest came out. This morning's firm buyout offer was met with a giant "meh" on the open market.

The announcement sparked a few pre-market trades above the $6.10 buyout offer, but that enthusiasm waned in short order and the going price has stayed under the $6 mark all day since. That means you can squeeze something like a 2% arbitrage profit out of buying Novell today and holding until the deal closes. That's probably not the best use of your investable resources, but there you go. In any case, I don't see any signs that the market at large expects a bidding war to break out.

This deal will break Novell up a bit, much as I have been asking it to do for the last four-and-a-half years. Privately held Attachmate is separating the SUSE Linux operation from the rest of Novell, thusly planning to run the future and legacy sections of Novell apart from each other.

Given the ownership structure behind Attachmate, I would not be surprised to see Attachmate backers Thoma Bravo, Golden Gate Capital, and Francisco Partners turn around and sell the repackaged Netware-centric division in short order. The main buyers for a deal like that could not only include good old IBM (NYSE: IBM  ) , but also large tech support companies like Infosys (Nasdaq: INFY  ) or Accenture (NYSE: ACN  ) . There is not much fresh development to do there, but plenty of legacy support to existing Netware users.

Then again, the buyout also includes shipping off a rather pricey package of intellectual property to a consortium led by Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) , though neither Mr. Softy nor Novell are too keen on talking about the details of that side bet. Knowing more about that arrangement wouldn't change much for Novell or Attachmate, but Novell maintains at least two important Linux software projects that compete with and depend on Microsoft in a big way, and there could be fallout -- positive or negative -- raining down over Novell rival Red Hat (NYSE: RHT  ) .

The market is taking Novell's exit as a smallish net positive for Red Hat so far. What do you think? Discuss the deal and its implications in the comments below.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Microsoft. The Fool owns shares of International Business Machines, and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.


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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On November 22, 2010, at 8:53 PM, halfstop wrote:

    So what happens to Novell's stock? Does it remain listed? Attachmate is a private company, will they just run Novell and keep it public?

  • Report this Comment On November 23, 2010, at 6:12 AM, TMFZahrim wrote:

    Attachmate is buying all of Novell's shares, and then the stock goes off the market. If Novell or its components go public again, it would be under new stock tickers and done to benefit the private-equity owners of Attachmate.

    Anders

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