Blackboard May Lure Bid as High as $65 a Share, Stifel Says

Blackboard Inc. (BBBB), a maker of online educational courseware, may lure buyout offers of as much as $65 a share from strategic bidders seeking to expand in Internet publishing, analysts at Stifel Nicolas said in a report today.

Education publishers News Corp. (NWSA), Pearson Plc (PSON) and McGraw- Hill Cos. may consider making offers for Blackboard, the analysts wrote, though they also said they had “no knowledge of any M&A negotiations or discussions between any of the identified potential suitors or any other party.”

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This month, Blackboard said it hired Barclays Capital as its financial adviser after receiving unsolicited buyout offers. Blackboard makes software that lets teachers post course materials, conduct discussions and make assignments online. Its customers include California State University, Chico, and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

Blackboard, based in Washington, rose $2.22, or 4.8 percent, to $48.24 at 4 p.m. New York time on the Nasdaq Stock Market. The shares gained 29 percent on April 19 when the company said it was evaluating takeover offers.

In January, Pearson paid $127 million to boost its stake in test-preparation service TutorVista, based in India. Last November, News Corp. paid $360 million for closely held Wireless Generation, a maker of Web-based tools for the classroom.

Private equity firms may also bid for Blackboard, with offers as high as $55 a share, Stifel said. “We think a private equity bid merely works to set a floor for the stock, but we do not believe management takes anything shy of a strategic bid,” the analysts said.

 

Read more at Bloomberg.