Novell target of hedge fund's $2 billion takeover bid

Elliott Associates makes unsolicited bid for struggling Linux and management software player

Novell, one of the earliest names in networking, Tuesday received an unsolicited takeover bid worth about $2 billion by a New York hedge fund.

Elliott Associates has offered $5.75 per share for Novell, which in recent years has turned its focus to open source, security and management software.

Also read: 2010 hottest tech M&A deals 

Novell has struggled financially, recently reporting its sixth consecutive quarterly sales decline. Revenue fell 10% during its most recent fiscal year wrapped up in October and its net losses widened. CEO Ron Hovsepian’s total compensation fell 17% to $5.7 million

Novell initially made a name for itself by introducing the NetWare network operating system in 1983 and it dominated the market for a decade. The company withered in competition vs. Microsoft in the 1990s and its efforts to diversify via such buyouts as Unix System Laboratories and WordPerfect failed to return Novell to past glory. In recent years Novell has focused on open source software, via its SuSE and Ximian acquisitions, and mended fences with Microsoft.

About 20 years ago Novell was the subject of another possible M&A deal, one involving eventual IBM acquisition Lotus, but the deal fell through. 

If Elliott’s takeover is successful, the deal would certainly give attendees of Novell BrainShare conference, set for March 21-25 in Salt Lake City, something to buzz about.

Elliott Associates made headlines last year for being one of the parties that bought auto parts company Delphi Corp. when it was spun off from General Motors.

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