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Sir Peter Ogden and Philip Hulme have offered 255p a share to take Computacenter private, valuing the UK’s biggest seller of personal computers to businesses at just less than £500m ($865m).

The duo, who founded Computacenter in 1981 and floated it in 1998 with a price tag of £1.3bn, are understood to have made the offer to the independent directors earlier this week.

The offer comes just two weeks after the company admitted it had received a bid approach from its founder and senior management and said discussions were at an early stage.

Mr Ogden is Computacenter’s largest shareholder with 23.5 per cent of the stock. The buy-out team, which collectively owns 44.2 per cent of Computacenter, includes Ron Sandler, chairman; Mike Norris, chief executive; and Tony Conophy, finance director. They are being advised by Goldman Sachs.

The independent directors, which include Nick Cosh and Cliff Preddy, will decide whether to recommend the offer over the next few days. They are being advised by HSBC.

Computacenter shares have more than halved over the past two years as key suppliers, specifically Hewlett-Packard, have renegotiated the terms of reseller agreements.

The company has built strong business with large enterprise customers but is keen to shift toward selling managed IT services, where margins are more than
double those of computer services.

In September, Computacenter reported a 73 per cent drop in pre-tax profit for the six months to June 30, while in July the company issued its third profit warning in seven months.

Public-to-private deals have become increasingly popular, despite the increased resistance from institutional fund managers against cheap takeovers.

The value of take-privates reached £4.9bn in the first half of 2005 – higher than in any calendar year since 2000 when they reached £9.4bn, according to the Centre for Management Buy-Out Research.

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