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July 1, 2011 3:29 PM

Weil, Dewey Advise on $1.6B Education Deal

Posted by Hannah D'Apice

Providence Equity Partners will acquire education software maker Blackboard in an all-cash deal valued at $1.6 billion, the companies announced Friday morning.

According to the terms of the agreement, the Providence, R.I.-based private equity firm is paying the equivalent of $45 cash per share of Blackboard and assuming $130 million of debt.

A team from Dewey & LeBoeuf advised Blackboard on the transaction, led by M&A partner Richard Climan and including M&A partners James Griffin and Joseph Cosentino; corporate partners Thomas Redekopp and Gregory Owens; and benefits partner Mitchel Pahl. Blackboard's in-house efforts were led by Matthew Small, general counsel and chief business officer.

Dewey's past work for Blackboard includes advising on the buying side of multiple acquisitions over the past several years, including a 2008 acquisition of text-messaging company NIT Group valued at $182 million.

Providence turned to longtime primary outside counsel Weil, Gotshal & Manges. The Weil team was led by corporate partners David Duffel and Kevin Sullivan, and included corporate partner Shayla Harlev; tax partners Michael Nissan and Helyn Goldstein; banking and finance partner Drew Yoon; technology partner Jeffrey Osterman; and benefits partner Andrew Gaines.

Weil lawyers have advised Providence on three education deals in the past two years. In 2010 the private equity firm purchased educational services provider Study Group Pty for $570 million, and in 2009 it joined with Goldman Sachs Capital Partners and Leeds Equity Partners in a $3.4 billion acquisition of for-profit college operator Education Management Corp.

The deal's share price represents a 21 percent premium over Blackboard's closing price of $37.16 per share on April 18, 2011, the day before the company announced it was considering a sale, according to a Blackboard press release.

The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year. Blackboard will remain headquartered in Washington, D.C., and continue to be led by its existing senior management team.

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