Third suitor enters race for Link Group with blockbuster bid

Link Group is in the sights of a third suitor, with NASDAQ-listed financial services firm SS&C Holding lobbing a $3 billion indicative bid for the ASX-listed superannuation fund administrator.

The offer from SS&C Holding, at $5.65 per share, is higher than the bid put forward by private equity suitors – Pacific Equity Partners (PEP) and The Carlyle Group – which was rebuffed by Link six weeks ago.

Outgoing Link Group chief executive John McMurtrie said a private equity takeover would not be a step backwards.
Outgoing Link Group chief executive John McMurtrie said a private equity takeover would not be a step backwards. Credit:Ben Rushton

Link’s board has labelled the $5.40 a share offer from PEP and Carlyle inadequate. However, it has left the door open for the private equity consortium to potentially return with another offer, giving it access to its books on a non-exclusive basis.

The non-binding proposal from SS&C Holding comes with six conditions, including unanimous board approval and the ability to obtain necessary debt financing, a statement filed with the ASX on Monday evening said.


“The Link Group board will consider the SS&C proposal, including obtaining advice from its financial and legal advisers,” Link said in the statement. “Shareholders do not need to take any action.”

Link told shareholders, well after trading had closed for the day, there was no certainty the discussions would result in a deal ahead of the group’s investor day on Wednesday.

SS&C is being advised by Citi and would need to obtain approval from the federal government’s foreign investment review board and Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in the event of any transaction.

Windsor, Conneticut-based SS&C sells software and software-as-a-service (SaaS) to the financial services industry. The company was last involved in a tussle with UK-based FNZ for ASX-listed financial software maker GBST Holdings last year.

Link has come on the radar of private equity suitors after reported a sea of red at its full-year results in August, with falls in revenue, operating profits and cash flow tied to growing regulatory headwinds.

Outgoing Link chief John McMurtrie said delisting the company, that he has led for almost two decades, would not be a step backwards as good private equity firms enable ongoing investment in the business.

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