Deals

Enterprise software provider Novell bought by Attachmate for $2.2B

Enterprise software infrastructure provider Novell agreed to be bought out by Attachmate, another enterprise software provider, for $2.2 billion — or $6.10 per share — today.

Infrastructure seems to be the sexy acquisition target in 2010. This is the second major purchase of an infrastructure provider in just a few months. Hewlett-Packard announced it would pick up 3Par, a cloud storage provider, for a cool $2.4 billion back in September.

Novell has two significant business operations. It operates a suite of enterprise software products that range from collaboration to security. It also develops the SuSE Linux operating system and manages an online open source development community for the operating system.

As part of the agreement, Novell will be split into two different business units operated by Attachmate. Novell’s SuSE will be spun out into a separate business unit, and the remainder of the company will operate under the Novell brand. Novell bought the SuSE brand and trademarks back in 2003 and was a big promoter of the open source operating system in its infancy.

Novell is also selling a chunk of its intellectual property to a batch of technology companies organized by Microsoft for $450 million. The company didn’t specify what projects it was coughing up to the rest of the world. But given Microsoft’s position on operating systems and the enterprise, it’s possible Microsoft is using this time to pick up some of the enterprise market that’s operating on SuSE. Microsoft recently extended its deal with Novell to help develop better interoperability between Windows and the SuSE Linux operating infrastructure.

What isn’t clear right now is the fate of Attachmate. The company could use this as an opportunity to go public through a reverse merger, or it could remain a privately held company. Attachmate is currently owned by Golden Gate Capital, Francisco Partners and Thoma Bravo. We’ve contacted Attachmate and Novell to try to find that out and will update as soon as we know.

Investors were all over the news. Novell’s shares were up about 6 percent today to $5.96. The share purchase price is about a 28 percent premium to the shares’ closing price on March 2, when the company entertained an acquisition from a private firm for $5.75 per share. Novell rejected that offer, saying it undervalued the company. It represents a 9 percent premium to yesterday’s closing price, $5.60.