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Rating:Bisys Group Sale Reportedly is Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Bisys Group Sale Reportedly is "Snagged"

Reported by Sean Hanna, Editor in Chief

Bisys Group may not be sold so quickly after all. Indeed the sale of the servicing firm may have hit a "roadblock" according to a published report. The Daily Deal, a subscription-only mergers and acquisitions-focused newspaper, reported on Friday that plans to sell the company in its entirety appear to have fallen through, meaning that the company may be sold off piece by piece instead if it is sold at all. Top Bisys executives have reportedly been resisting a piecemeal sale of the company. Fund firms relying on Bisys for back office services would likely see little change in the case of a sale of the entire company.

Meanwhile, if the company is sold in pieces, the split would likely fall between the firm's investment services group and insurance services group. Indeed, it is the gap between the two units that is causing potential bidders to pause at the auction, according to a published report.

Word of the sale was first reported after then-CEO Russell Fradin unexpectedly quit to join Hewitt Associates. Soon thereafter Bisys Group's top management admitted that the firm had hired investment bankers at Bear Stearns to explore strategic possibilities for the firm.

The Daily Deal reported that pitch books went out to potential bidders in October with a mid-February deadline for initial bids. MergerMarket further reported that the deadline for final bids was March. Bisys Group and its deal advisors want those bids to be for the entire firm and not an ala carte auction.

While Bisys and the bankers at Bear Stearns saw initial interest in a deal from a number of private equity firms -- a list that reportedly initially included Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe, Blackstone Group LP and Carlyle Group -- the complexity of the business and their broad reach caused those buyers to lose interest in the whole meal. Bisys has two separate lines of business: the investment services group which provides back-office work for mutual funds, retirement plans and hedge fundsand the insurance services group which is a wholesale distributor of life insurance, commercial property-casualty insurance and long-term care and disability products.

Indeed, Fortis SA/NV the one party still pulled up to the table, according to the report, is only interested in acquiring the asset servicing business and wants that piece for the relationships with hedge funds.

The paper adds that despite the hurdle to completing a deal for the entire company, Bisys' management continues to press for that structure and decline deals that would lead to a break up of the firm. At one point, a financial bidder reportedly offered $12.75 a share for the company with an expectation of restructuring the business. Bisys officials turned down that offer. At the time of the offer, Bisys shares were trading at roughly $13 per share. 

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