Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Blackboard: Chalking Up Profits for Shareholders?

Blackboard is for sale. The company hired Barclays after receiving unsolicited proposals. The Carlyle Group took Blackboard public in 2004. It might return to private equity underwriter (PEU) hands.

Major shareholders as of 4-21-10 included:

Janus Capital Management, LLC(2)
    3,676,260       10.83 %
151 Detroit Street
Denver, CO 80206
BlackRock Inc.(3)
    2,846,409       8.38  
40 East 52nd Street
New York, NY 10022
Waddell & Reed Investment Management Company(4)
    1,921,646       5.66  
6300 Lamar Avenue
Overland Park, KS 66202
Artisan Partners(5)
    1,815,300       5.35  
875 East Wisconsin Avenue
Suite 800 Milwaukee, WI 53202

Much changed over the last year, including Blackboard's share price:


Janus Capital upped its stake to 4.3 million shares or 12.6% of Blackboard common stock.  Artisan Partners holds 2.9 million shares or 8.5%, while Waddell & Reed lightened its share load to 173,000 shares.

New entries included Blackrock and T. Rowe Price.  T. Rowe Price owns 3.5 million shares or 10.2% as of 1-31-11, buying the last 600,000 shares in January.  Blackrock holds 2.8 million shares or 8.3% of Blackboard.  Blackrock's Larry Fink likes totalitarian governments.  Might a sovereign wealth fund (SWF) bid on BBBB?  Russia has $10 billion to co-invest with PEU's and SWF's.

Who wins and how much under a Blackboard sale?  You do the math.

P.S. Standard Times legendary publisher Houston Harte insisted reporters find the local angle to any story.  Angelo State University uses Blackboard.  If other universities are as financially stressed as ASU, Blackboard's customer base is severely limited, at least in purchasing power.