Private equity firm Thoma Bravo has agreed to buy Ellie Mae in an all-cash deal it said valued the provider of mortgage software at $3.7bn.
The takeover by Thoma Bravo is the latest in a series of transactions within the financial services industry over the past several months, and comes only a day after Morgan Stanley agreed to acquire employees stock administrator Solium Capital for $900m.
San Francisco-based Thoma Bravo is among a crop of tech-focused private equity groups that have made aggressive bets in high growth companies with fairly limited profitability. The deal for Ellie Mae will rank among its largest of all time, according to data provider Dealogic.
Ellie Mae stockholders will receive $99 per share in cash, 21 per cent above the company’s closing share price on Monday.
Ellie Mae’s board unanimously approved the takeover and said it had 35 days to actively solicit alternative buyout offers. The Ellie Mae board noted that it could provide “no assurance” to its shareholders that the so-called go-shop period would result in a higher purchase price for the company.
“Since the founding of Ellie Mae more than 20 years ago, our mission has been simple — to automate everything automatable for the residential mortgage industry,” Ellie Mae chief executive Jonathan Corr said.
In recent years, Thoma Bravo has acquired cyber security group Imperva for $2.1bn, data visualisation company Qlik for about $3bn, as well as made a minority investment in PC antivirus software maker McAfee.
California-based Ellie Mae provides smaller banks and lenders technology to originate loans, a product analysts with broker Susquehanna said was seen by “industry operators . . . as the gold standard”.
Revenues for the company jumped roughly 20 per cent from a year prior to $364m in the first nine months of 2018. However, net profits declined 48 per cent in the period from the year prior. Ellie Mae is scheduled to provide investors full-year sales figures later this week.
Shares in Ellie Mae, which have fallen nearly 30 per cent from an all-time high reached last June, climbed 21 per cent in pre-market trading on Tuesday to $99.00.
JPMorgan Chase and law firm Cooley advised Ellie Mae on the transaction. Thoma Bravo was advised by law firm Kirkland & Ellis and US investment bank Jefferies, which is also providing financing for the deal.
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