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Vulture Fund Rumoured to be Planning to Break Novell Apart, Vultures Deny the Claim

Posted in FUD, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Red Hat, SLES/SLED, Ubuntu at 6:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: Disagreement between the press and the hostile acquirer as to whether or not Novell would stay in tact

NOVELL is at a stage of uncertainty and state of denial because it’s likely to be acquired soon [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. The Novell-faithful people watch with concern as their Novell skills/certifications are at stake and Novell’s BrainShare, which is just days away, has "uncertainty" written all over it. Attendants are likely to bring up questions about the company’s short-term plans. Novell’s PR team promotes the event [1, 2], whereas analysts at Ovum claim that “The end is nigh for Novell”:

After years of acquisition rumors, last week Novell received a buy-out offer from hedge fund Elliott Associates (EA). Whether the offer succeeds or not, Novell is likely to end up in pieces.


Novell’s parts are more valuable than its sum

Novell’s board is likely to reject the current offer before Novell’s annual conference, BrainShare, starts on 21 March. It can keep rejecting EA’s offers, but it cannot stop EA from going directly to Novell’s shareholders. Should EA be successful, it is likely to pocket Novell’s cash then split the company and sell its constituent parts.

This news report from Bloomberg (also published in BusinessWeek and later corrected slightly) claims that Novell will be torn apart by Singer and his minions, who are only interested in money and not in Novell’s staff, products, and customers.

Elliott Associates LP, the fund manager that made an unsolicited $2 billion offer for Novell Inc., may consider selling the NetWare networking-software unit if its bid succeeds, a person familiar with the matter said.

Elliott, which owns about 8.5 percent of Novell stock, would also try to run the company more efficiently and bring about $400 million in cash that Novell holds off shore to the U.S., said the person, who asked not to be identified because Novell hasn’t agreed to the bid. Elliott may also try to find a buyer for Novell’s business that specializes in an open-source operating system, the person said.

“Our intent is to own Novell,” New York-based Elliott said in an e-mailed statement. “We have absolutely no plans to sell any business units.”

The Inquirer wrote about it shortly afterwards:

Novell will be asset stripped

SOURCES AT the investment fund Elliot have confirmed that if it is successful in its bid to take over Novell, the outfit will be asset stripped.

Its Netware networking-software unit will be flogged and the company will look for a buyer for its SUSE Linux operation.

Elliott Associates, the vulture fund, later issued a denial:

As the week was ending, rumors were swirling that the hedge fund suitor of Novell, Elliott Associates, which last week offered $1bn net of cash to take over the perennially struggling software maker, was going to start selling off its target’s assets if it clinches a deal.


In response to the Bloomberg story, Elliott put out a statement two hours after the market closed denying the rumors. “The story that Bloomberg ran today was inaccurate. Elliott has made no statement with respect to its intent regarding Novell. Elliott wants to own the company. Elliott has no plans to sell any business units and to report anything else would be erroneous.”

So what was the Bloomberg report based upon?

The Novell-faithful folks were also quick to point out this “mistake”, whose correction came through PRNewsWire. In Associated Content, one fan of SUSE wrote: “Why Microsoft Needs to Buy Novell or Has Its Own Linux Distro?” [weak English]

I personally do not want to see SUSE to die. I ‘dabbled my feet’ with linux was SuSe 6.0. I actually bought the boxed version of that software (since installing, downloading, configuring, etc were a major pain in those days). Among all linux I tried that time (which was probably early 1990s), SUSE was always the winner in detecting any hardwares I throw into. All other distros just simply failed, usually, in detecting the ‘soft modem.’ Remember that era? If not, soft modem is that annoying modem that can be used with Windows driver only. You would be lucky to run your beloved 1.44k band modem if someone did the hack for linux driver of it.

Taking a moment to look a few days back (before the Bloomberg report and the subsequent denial), Paul Rubens believes that sale of Novell’s assets is inevitable.

The enterprise Linux space has suddenly got very interesting following the news that a bunch of sharp-suited New Yorkers have made an offer to buy SUSE Linux’s parent company, Novell. Whether or not they succeed, there can be little doubt that it’s cheerio and night-night for Novell, a business that has been doomed since, let’s be brutally honest here, everyone stopped buying NetWare.

The offer, from hedge fund outfit Elliott Associates, was for $5.75 per share, valuing Novell at a shade under $2 billion. But bearing in mind that the company has vast cash piles in various currencies, worth about $950 million, and the offer values Novell’s businesses at around $1 billion greenbacks.

There is clearly a takeover expected, so the question is, by who?

Macquarie Securities initiated coverage on takeover target Novell (Nasdaq: NOVL) with an Outperform rating and $7.50 price target.

Microsoft's buddy reckons that Novell will be sold and in Boston (near Novell’s headquarters) this is pointed out too. The takeover gets mentioned in many other places that we mentioned before (we try to produce an exhaustive list of links to articles) and negative speculations about Red Hat are fueled by FUD from Canonical's Matt Asay, leading to articles like this one.

But there are fears that if Novell goes, that could be the first domino which damages the commercial outfits based on Linux.

The next target might be Red Hat. Some think that if Novell’s SUSE Linux business finds its way into Oracle’s or VMware’s or IBM’s paws, it will be hard for Red Hat to remain viable as a stand alone company.

This is only based on CNET, which they think is a reliable news site. When they say “there are fears” they only refer to Matt Asay, who used to work for Novell and thus compete strongly against Red Hat. This whole thing also feeds the shameless Microsoft booster Preston Gralla [1, 2]. His disinformation is self explanatory and public admiration of Microsoft very much expected.

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