Blue Coat: Private Equity Acquisition Won't Change Channel Strategy


Blue Coat Systems is seeking to assure solution providers that its acquisition by private equity powerhouse Thoma Bravo won't dull its channel chops.

"Our focus won't change at all," said Steve Daheb, Blue Coat's chief marketing officer and senior vice president of corporate and business development, in an interview with CRN. "Obviously there are things you need to put energy into when you're a public company, and that energy can now go right into serving our partners. We're really excited about that."

Blue Coat on Friday confirmed it would be taken private for $1.3 billion by an investor group headed by Thoma Bravo. Under the terms of the agreement, Blue Coat shareholders receive $25.81 in cash for each share of common Blue Coat stock, representing a 48 percent premium based on the company's Dec. 8 closing price.

"I think it says a lot about the direction that it's almost a 50 percent premium," Daheb said. "That speaks for itself."

Blue Coat, said Daheb, spent six months reviewing all of its strategic options, including choices that would leave it a public company. Thoma Bravo, which also owns channel-facing security vendors SonicWall and Tripwire, presented the best option.

"After an extensive evaluation, our [board] determined that an agreement with Thoma Bravo brought the greatest value to shareholders and provided the best platform, long-term, for Blue Coat to thrive as a company," Daheb said. "One of the things that attracted them to Blue Coat was the strength of our channel. We also count 90 percent of the Fortune 500 as our customers."

Daheb added that Blue Coat doesn't anticipate any managerial or other corporate changes following the acquisition, which is expected to close in the first quarter of 2012.

It's been a year of transitions for Blue Coat, which parted ways with then-president and CEO Mike Borman in August and named Gregory Clark its new chief executive. At the time, Blue Coat had reported a sizable decline in sales and profit for its fiscal first quarter.

Blue Coat's also made significant changes in its channel ranks, choosing to de-centralize its worldwide channel management in favor of regionally-based executives. Jim Harold, former vice president, worldwide channel sales, left the company as a result.

Laurie Usewicz, vice president of Americas channel sales, told CRN Friday that there wouldn't be any change to Blue Coat's channel strategy following the acquisition.

"If anything, our channel growth will be further enhanced," Usewicz told CRN.

Next: Blue Coat VARs See No Cause For Concern