The private-equity firm Vista Equity Partners is near a deal to purchase the cybersecurity provider
for about $4.5 billion, according to people familiar with the matter, a rare leveraged buyout as financing for such deals has become harder to secure.
The deal, which is expected to be unveiled Wednesday assuming the talks don’t drag out or fall apart, values KnowBe4 shares at nearly $25 each. The stock closed at $21.59 on Tuesday.
In September, KnowBe4 said it had received a nonbinding proposal from Vista to acquire the company for $24 a share in cash, a nearly 40% premium to the closing price on the last day of trading before the announcement.
Clearwater, Fla.-based KnowBe4 is a platform for security-awareness training and simulated phishing. Its customers, which number more than 50,000, include a concentration in the banking and credit-union sectors, according to the company’s website.
Leveraged buyouts of public companies have become increasingly rare this year as stocks and bonds swoon and bank debt becomes more expensive. Private-equity firms had completed roughly $175 billion of LBOs as of Oct. 7, compared with about $262 billion during the same period of 2021, according to Dealogic.
To get deals done, private-equity firms are increasingly turning to private-credit providers, as Vista is expected to do to help pay for KnowBe4.
The take-private deal would be one of three Vista has struck so far this year. In August, the technology-focused firm agreed to acquire the tax-software company
for some $8.4 billion including debt. In January, Vista said it would acquire Citrix Systems Inc., a cloud-computing company, for $16.5 billion including debt, alongside Elliott Management Corp.’s private-equity arm, in one of the biggest buyouts of the year.
Vista, based in Austin, Texas, is a player in buyouts of business-software companies. Founded in 2000, the firm manages more than $94 billion, according to its website.
Write to Laura Cooper at [email protected]
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