Novell rejects "inadequate" $2 billion takeover bid

Novell CEO publicly rejects hedge fund bid

Novell's CEO on Saturday notified customers that the open source software company has rejected hedge fund Elliott Associates' roughly $2 billion bid to take it private.

Novell's Ron Hovsepian wrote: "As you may know, on March 2nd, Elliott Associates, L.P. announced an unsolicited, conditional proposal to acquire Novell. Today we issued a press release announcing that our Board of Directors has concluded, after careful consideration, including a review of the proposal with its independent financial and legal advisors, that Elliott's proposal is inadequate and that it undervalues the Company's franchise and growth prospects. Additionally, we announced that our Board has authorized a thorough review of various alternatives to enhance stockholder value."

Also read: 2010 hottest tech M&A deals

Some have questioned whether Novell is really worth $2 billion and whether the company should jump at the $5.75 per share offer, but others say Novell indeed could be worth that much or more considering its $1.82 billion in assets, for starters.

Novell has struggled financially, recently reporting its sixth consecutive quarterly sales decline. Revenue fell 10% during its most recent fiscal year wrapped up in October and its net losses widened. CEO Hovsepian’s total compensation fell 17% to $5.7 million.

Nevertheless, the company has forged ahead with new developments, including its Pulse social networking and collaboration suite, now in beta.

Also read: 9 things you probably don't know about Novell

Novell initially made a name for itself by introducing the NetWare network operating system in 1983 and it dominated the market for a decade. The company withered in competition vs. Microsoft in the 1990s and its efforts to diversify via such buyouts as Unix System Laboratories and WordPerfect failed to return Novell to past glory. In recent years Novell has focused on open source software, via its SuSE and Ximian acquisitions, and mended fences with Microsoft.

The takeover bid and Novell's rejection of it should spice up this coming week's Novell BrainShare conference in Salt Lake City.

Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.

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Bob Brown

Network World

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