Founder of IT services firm ACS in £3bn buy-out offer

The founder and chairman of IT services provider Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) wants to take the company private for about £3bn.

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The founder and chairman of IT services provider Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) wants to take the company private for about £3bn.

Darwin Deason, who founded the company in 1988, joined with Cerberus capital Management to acquire ACS. They are offering £30 per share in cash, a premium of 15.5% over the stock's closing price on Monday, Deason said. The full price including debt would be about £4.1bn, he said.

ACS spokesman Kevin Lightfoot confirmed Deason had proposed the acquisition.

ACS, provides business process outsourcing and other IT services to commercial and government clients.

Deason would remain executive chairman of the company following the buyout and the business would keep operating in accordance with its current practices, he said. The workforce would stay in place and ACS would continue providing services to its customers.

Deason and Cerberus are ready to start negotiations with ACS's board, or a special committee of its independent directors, and move quickly to seal the deal, they said. They do not expect regulatory or other hurdles to keep them from a timely close. The partners are working with Citigroup Global Markets for financing.

ACS is one of the world's biggest computer services companies, along with Electronic Data Systems, IBM's IBM Global Services division and other providers. Early last year, the company said it had considered a private-equity buyout or recapitalisation to boost shareholder value but rejected both plans. It was still looking at ways to boost value but had stopped considering a sell off.

Tuesday's proposal came amid reports of a possible private equity buyout of another high-tech company, Palm. In such deals, investors usually look at a company and determine if it can deliver a rate of return that is greater than the cost of borrowing money for the acquisition, said analyst Casey Ryan of Nollenberger Capital Partners. These deals are "trendy" right now and tend to happen when financial institutions have a lot of money and are looking for better returns on it, he said.

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