Software Maker Aspen Tech Said to Weigh Minority Stake Sale
(Bloomberg) -- Industrial software provider Aspen Technology Inc. is exploring options including a possible sale of a minority stake, according to people familiar with the matter.
A stake in Aspen Tech could appeal to large industrial firms as well as buyout funds, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. The company is working with advisers as it weighs alternatives, which could also include a commercial partnership with a major manufacturer, they said.
Aspen Tech makes software for companies in industries such as chemicals, manufacturing, energy, metals and mining, its website shows. Shares of the company rose as much as 2.9% Wednesday, hitting the highest intraday level in two weeks. They were up 1.1% at 9:49 a.m. in New York, giving Aspen Tech a market value of $9.5 billion.
The company has long been considered an attractive takeover target for big industrial companies looking to expand in software. However, high price expectations and management reluctance have been hurdles for a full sale over the years despite interest from potential acquirers, the people said.
Deliberations are ongoing and may not lead to a transaction, the people said. A representative for Bedford, Massachusetts-based Aspen Tech declined to comment.
Industrial firms have been shifting their focus from machinery to technology and automation. Last year, Aveva Group Plc agreed to acquire industrial-software maker Osisoft for about $5 billion, while Emerson Electric Co. agreed to buy Open Systems International Inc. for $1.6 billion.
Software companies also have sometimes sought investments from potential buyers, including industrial companies. In 2018, Rockwell Automation Inc. agreed to make a $1 billion equity investment in industrial software company PTC Inc. as part of a strategic partnership, according to a statement at the time.
Honeywell International Inc., which has been seeking to marry software capabilities with its industrial know-how, agreed in December to acquire Sparta Systems for $1.3 billion to gain technology used in the life sciences industry. The company said in April it’s transferring its listing to the Nasdaq as it seeks to stress its technology focus.
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