Skillsoft Go-Shop Goes Nowhere

(Reuters) – E-learning software maker SkillSoft Plc (SKIL.O) said the $1.1 billion offer made by a group of private-equity firms was the only option left at the end of its go-shop period, disappointing investors who were expecting better.

The news sent the American depositary shares of the company down more than 5 percent on heavy volumes on Thursday.

The cash offer of $10.80 per share was made last month by SSI Investments III Ltd, a company formed by funds owned by Berkshire Partners, Advent International and Bain Capital.

The merger agreement had a “go-shop” period, ending on March 6, that allowed SkillSoft to scout for better offers.

The go-shop window had closed without another bidder making a formal offer, the company said in a statement late Wednesday.

SkillSoft said its board continued to recommend that the shareholders vote in favor of the SSI Investments deal.

“We believe that investors and arbitrageurs should hold their existing positions for the initial $10.80 offer with a possibility of a slight improvement in the original terms to secure shareholder approval,” MKM Partners analyst Keith Moore said in a note to clients.

SkillSoft, which provides Internet-based training courses and software to businesses and governments, also announced the receipt of Irish high court directions to convene the court meeting in relation to the proposed deal.

“We do not expect any of the remaining legal hurdles to impact the ability of the proposed buyers to close the deal, nor do we expect a last-minute bidder to emerge,” William Blair & Co analyst Brandon Dobell said in a note to clients.

SkillSoft competes with companies such as India’s NIIT (NIIT.BO), Kenexa (KNXA.O) and Blackboard Inc (BBBB.O) in the increasingly competitive e-learning software and services market. (Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Bangalore; Editing by Maju Samuel)