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02-07-2012 16:39:00

UPDATE: Dell Wins Quest Software Bidding War With $2.36 Billion Offer

--Dell agrees to buy Quest Software for $2.36 billion

--PC maker beats out competing offers from private-equity group

--Dell's buy continues push to expand beyond PCs

(Updates with additional details on Quest, buyout group, analyst comment)

By Victoria Stilwell and Drew FitzGerald

Dell Inc. (DELL) announced Monday its agreement to buy business-software maker Quest Software Inc. (QSFT) in a cash deal worth $2.36 billion, ending a bidding war with a private-equity group that included the company's chief executive.

Dell offered $28 a share for Quest, well above an initial bid of $23 a share from Insight Venture Partners, a venture capital firm that has a longstanding relationship with Quest and Vinny Smith, its chairman and chief executive. Insight had partnered with private-equity firm Vector Capital to raise its bid to $25.75 a share, valuing the company at $2.17 billion.

Quest last week said Dell's offer was superior without identifying the bidder. The buyout group considered Dell's latest bid too high, according to a person familiar with the situation.

The deal offers a 44% premium over Quest's share price in early March, before the company received its initial offer. It values Quest at about 16.9 times projected earnings.

Quest is the latest in a string of deals for Dell as the Round Rock, Texas, company looks to expand past its core business of selling PCs. Dell earlier this year formed a unit dedicated to selling software and hired John Swainson, the former head of CA Inc. (CA), to run it. Dell has announced several acquisitions this year, including security firm Sonicwall Inc. and Wyse Technology Inc., which specializes in Web-based software.

Analysis firm Stifel Nicolaus said Dell could focus on integrating its existing software business with Quest's data-security and virtualized desktop products that could work with Wyse.

Quest, of Aliso Viejo, Calif., has faced mounting competition in its traditional specialty--software for managing databases--as vendors such as Oracle Corp. (ORCL) introduce their own management tools. Quest has responded by trying to diversify its business by acquiring smaller rivals that help technicians manage servers more easily and protect data.

Dell last week offered $27.50 a share, or about $2.32 billion for Quest. Insight had the opportunity to match or beat the increased offer but struggled to put together financing despite last-minute efforts by Mr. Smith, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The fight over Quest echoes a similar battle Dell waged for high-end data-storage maker 3Par Inc. in 2010. Dell eventually bowed out after Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) bid $1.6 billion for the company, which makes rapidly accessible storage drives that allow corporations to run more efficient databases.

Write to Drew FitzGerald at andrew.fitzgerald@dowjones.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 02, 2012 10:39 ET (14:39 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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