British tech trio set to scoop millions more: Regulator sets scene for full-scale US takeover war for Blue Prism

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Three British tech bosses will be hoping to secure an even greater windfall after a bidding war threatened to break up their software firm.

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Jason Kingdon, Alastair Bathgate and David Moss were already set to rake in more than £130m between them after US private equity firm Vista Equity Partners presented a £1.1bn offer for Blue Prism.

But that amount is set to climb when the acquisition panel yesterday set the scene for a full-scale bidding war. The deal-making watchdog ordered SS&C, a rival suitor that shut down Vista’s offering earlier this month, to either make a formal offering or walk away by next Thursday.

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On Thursday Vista – which was founded in 2000 by American tycoon Robert Smith – raised its own offer to £1.2bn, a fight trying to get the SS&C away before it could even begin.

The new proposal means Blue Prism’s chairman and chief executive will pocket Kingdon from £73.8m – £66.5m. Co-founders Bathgate and Moss will earn £57.5m and £18m respectively from the sale of their stake. But they may be hoping that SS&C, a US tech firm, will come back with an even better offer before the takeover panel’s deadline.

Warrington-based Blue Prism, which makes technology for companies to automate office tasks, initially agreed a £1.1 billion acquisition deal with Vista in September. Blue Prism was scheduled to hold a meeting on November 19 where shareholders could vote on the deal — but it had to scrap its plans after SS&C bowled with its approach. But SS&C has failed to make a formal bid.

Tycoon: Robert Smith with wife Hope Dworzyke

Tycoon: Robert Smith with wife Hope Dworzyke

Blue Prism has rearranged its vote on the Vista deal for December 9, and the takeover panel said SS&C has until December 2 to make a move. Blue Prism investors may be hoping that SS&C will come back with a big offer — and not just because they stand to score a big windfall.

Shareholders are angry with the Vista deal. The private equity hunter warned that it would lose jobs if it bought Blue Prism. It also refused to commit to Blue Prism’s UK headquarters. It wants to merge Blue Prism with Silicon Valley-based data analytics firm Tibco, which it bought in 2014 for £3.1 billion.

Critics have dubbed the deal ‘private equity at its worst’. But Kingdon, a serial entrepreneur who joined Blue Prism in 2008, said: ‘Vista and Tibco recognize the strength of what they have built and the exceptional products and services we provide.’

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