SUSE changes colors again in private ownership pivot

Green/blue/orange chameleon in a human hand | SUSE Private

SUSE is to take operations private, following an announcement by its biggest shareholder, EQT Private Equity, that it will delist the firm from the Frankfurt Stock Exchange via a merger into an unlisted Luxembourg entity.

It’s been just over two years since SUSE filed to go public and it follows a considerable leadership shakeup, but Dirk-Peter van Leeuwen, CEO of SUSE told ERP Today that a return into private EQT Private Equity’s hands is said to offer a “strategic opportunity” for the firm to develop under its newly installed leadership team.

It continues a long line of hand-swapping since the open source firm was founded three decades ago. SUSE has been acquired for $120m by Novell in 2003, for $2.2bn by The Attachmate Group in 2011, for $2.35bn by Micro Focus International in 2014, and for $2.535bn by EQT Private Equity in 2018. Now, the company has been valued at $2.96bn.

van Leeuwen told ERP Today: “[…] taking the company private – it gives us the right setting to grow the business and deliver on our strategy with the new leadership team in place.

“EQT Private Equity’s and SUSE’s partnership in a private setting has been fruitful before and we are excited about the long-term potential of the company and our continued collaboration.”

Since the announcement, SUSE shares have surged, up 60 percent in early Frankfurt trade this morning. EQT Private Equity, which owns around 79 percent of SUSE via its holding company Marcel LUX III SARL (Marcel), intends to offer a voluntary public purchase offer to the other shareholders of SUSE to buy their shares prior to the delisting.

Sitting at €16 per share, it represents a premium of approximately 67 percent on the closing share price, however, the offer is a significant markdown from the initial public offering price of €30 in May 2021.

SUSE has stated that EQT “does not intend to pursue a squeeze-out” and there is no obligation for shareholders to accept the offer. Underscoring EQT’s “commitment” to supporting the firm “strategically and financially”, SUSE’s management and supervisory boards have offered their support, stating that the delisting “will allow SUSE to focus fully on its operational priorities and execution of its long-term strategy”.

In an EQT Private Equity statement, the private setting is said to allow the developer to “work towards its full potential”, with reports suggesting the move will allow for its long-term investments to reaccelerate growth.