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Novell Accepting Acquisition Bids: Report

As many as 20 companies have submitted bids to acquire software vendor Novell just two months after it rejected a $2 billion acquisition offer from an investment company.

But the auction to sell the company is expected to take awhile because a group of finalists will be chosen from the initial bids with final offers due sometime later, according to a story in The Wall Street Journal .

The report, quoting “people familiar with the matter,” said most of the bidders are private equity firms.

In March investment firm Elliott Associates made an unsolicited bid to acquire Novell for $5.75 per share or approximately $2 billion. Elliott and its subsidiaries own more than 8 percent of Novell’s stock, making it one of the company’s largest shareholders.

Several weeks later Novell executives, speaking at the company’s BrainShare conference in Salt Lake City, rejected the Elliott offer, saying the bid “undervalues the company’s franchise and growth prospects.” But the company indicated that it would entertain higher bids from Elliott or any other company and said it had hired J.P. Morgan to advise the company on its financial options.

Novell said at the time that its board had ordered a review of various alternatives to enhance stockholder value, including a sale of the company, a stock repurchase or dividend program, or some form of strategic partnership or alliance.

Word that Novell is accepting acquisition bids is a sign that the company is at least taking the first steps to being acquired. At BrainShare CEO Ron Hovsepian said the company would make no further comment until the board had approved a specific course of action.

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