UPDATE 2-Blackboard says received buyout offers; shares jump

Tue Apr 19, 2011 3:47pm EDT

* Says hired Barclays Capital to evaluate proposals

* Can get offer of $50-$57/share - analyst

* Shares up 35 pct

(Adds analyst comment, background)

April 19 (Reuters) - Blackboard Inc BBBB.O, which makes learning software for schools and businesses, said it was considering selling itself after it received buyout offers, sending its shares up 35 percent to a life-time high.

Washington D.C.-based Blackboard, which provides custom software to educational institutions for computer-aided learning and classroom courses, did not disclose any details about the proposals.

"The company is evaluating the offers as well as strategic alternatives to enhance shareholder value," Blackboard said in a statement.

Analysts said Blackboard presents an ideal buy for traditional publishing houses like Pearson (PSON.L) and McGraw-Hill Cos Inc MHP.N looking for better online exposure and private equity players because of its high cash flow business model.

"An acquirer can pay as high as 16-17 times the EBITDA ... I think somewhere between $50 and $57 (per share) would be an appropriate price to pay," Feltl & Co analyst Scott Berg said.

Blackboard shares, which touched a high of $50.26, were trading up 33 percent at $49.56 on Nasdaq. About 7 million shares changed hands, more than 30 times their daily average volume.

"I think that for a long time they have been rumoured as a takeout candidate, in part because they have dominated the education market with their software and have expanded their reach through some acquisitions," Craig-Hallum Capital analyst Mike Malouf said.

The company, valued at about $1.3 billion, said it has retained Barclays Capital to advise it over the unsolicited, non-binding acquisition proposals it has received.

(Reporting by Himank Sharma and Arpita Mukherjee in Bangalore; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

((Himank.Sharma@thomsonreuters.com; Within U.S. +1 646 223 8780; outside U.S. +91 80 4135 5800; Reuters Messaging: Himank.Sharma@thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) Keywords: BLACKBOARD/

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