Plato Learning's high bid won't be enough to snag Renaissance

  • Article by: PATRICK KENNEDY
  • Star Tribune
  • October 14, 2011 - 8:37 PM

A judge's decision Friday appears to clear the way for a merger between Wisconsin-based Renaissance Learning and its preferred bidder.

At a special meeting scheduled for Monday, shareholders are expected to approve the merger agreement between publicly held Renaissance Learning and a company controlled by the private equity firm Permira Advisers LLC that would take the e-learning company private.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb in the Western District of Wisconsin on Friday denied a motion sought by Data Key Partners, a minority shareholder in Renaissance, which was asking for a temporary restraining order that would have stopped the meeting. That could have opened the door for Bloomington-based Plato Learning to proceed with its higher, $496 million bid to acquire Renaissance.

On Aug. 15, Renaissance Learning and Permira Funds entered into a definitive merger agreement. Since then Plato Learning made several unsolicited bids for Renaissance that were higher than offers from Permira.

Renaissance co-founders Terrance and Judith Paul and various family members and affiliates control 69 percent of the publicly held company. The Pauls told the Renaissance board of directors on Oct. 10 that they would support a revised bid from Permira for $455 million. Both Renaissance and Plato are technology companies in the booming online learning industry.

"We are disappointed that the court did not grant a temporary restraining order," a Plato spokesman said late Friday.

"We remain confident that our superior proposal offered compelling value for all Renaissance shareholders and stakeholders. We were simply trying to offer the best possible value for Renaissance and it is unfortunate that shareholders are being denied the value they deserve."

Patrick Kennedy • 612-673-7926

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