Thursday, May 17, 2007

Blackstone to Acquire Alliance Data (AP)

DALLAS — Private-label credit card services provider Alliance Data Systems Corp. said Thursday it agreed to a $6.43 billion takeover by private equity firm Blackstone Group.

Blackstone Capital Partners V LP will pay $81.75 per share in cash for Alliance Data, representing a 30 percent premium to the stock's Wednesday closing price of $62.96. Based on Alliance Data's 78.7 million outstanding shares as of May 1, the deal is valued at $6.43 billion.

Including assumed debt, the total transaction is worth about $7.8 billion.

Alliance Data' board unanimously approved the agreement and recommended that shareholders agree to the transaction, which is expected to close by year-end, subject to antitrust and other regulatory approvals.

Banc of America Securities LLC and Lehman Brothers served as financial advisers to Alliance Data. Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC and Blackstone Corporate Advisory Services served as financial advisers to Blackstone Group.

Last month, Alliance Data reported its first-quarter earnings grew 1 percent year-over-year, as sharply higher sales in its marketing services unit helped offset increased costs. The company also raised guidance for the full year.

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