Who Else Is Bidding for Novell? We’ve heard…

There are a lot of names being mentioned in the Novell auction.

The newsiest is that Silver Lake Partners, the PE firm that invests in big tech companies like Instinet and Flextronics, is supposedly bidding for Novell. Some people are saying they are involved and some are saying the rumors are completely false. I don’t know what to believe.

GTCR Golder Rauner, the Chicago PE firm, is also being mentioned. GTCR was looking at Novell, sources say, but it’s not clear if they are still involved.

And then there’s Thoma Bravo. Last week, I reported that Thoma Bravo was bidding for the non-Linux business. Now I’m hearing that they’re being very aggressive in the auction.

“Every single tech sponsor was involved in this, or is looking at Novell,” one banker says.

A sale has been a long time coming. Novell, a business software provider, has been up for sale since March. At that time, the firm rejected a $5.75 a share, or $2 billion, offer from Elliot Associates. Novell then tapped J.P. Morgan Chase to explore alternatives. By May as many as 20 bidders were reportedly vying for Novell. Last week, the New York Post reported that Novell would likely sell in two parts: a strategic will buy the Novell piece that develops and delivers Linux SUSE Systems and a PE firm will buy the rest.

The Wall Street Journal on Sept. 16 reported that Novell was in advanced talks with at least two buyers, including VMware, to sell the software company in several pieces. VMware is vying for the SUSE Linux operating business. Attachmate Corp., which is owned by Golden Gate Capital and Francisco Partners, could buy some or all the remaining assets.

Silver Lake, Golden Gate, Francisco Partners and Vector Capital have all made investments in the sector.

Timing of an announcement is unclear. A second banker says an announcement could come this week, while others say it is still a few weeks away. Some say the deal could fall apart. “It wouldn’t surprise me if this deal never got done,” a third banking source says. “They’ve been trying to do this since March. It’s not 3PAR.”

Officials for Silver Lake and GTCR declined comment. Thoma Bravo, Francisco Partners and Golden Gate couldn’t be reached for comment.