Apollo Global to buy West Corp for about $2 billion

(Reuters) - U.S. telephone conferencing services provider West Corp WSTC.O said it had entered into an agreement to be acquired by buyout firm Apollo Global Management LLC APO.N for about $2 billion in cash.

The $23.50 per share offer represented a premium of about 17.5 percent over West Corp’s closing price on November 1, 2016, the company said on Tuesday.

West Corp announced last November that it had hired investment bank Centerview Partners LLC and law firm Sidley Austin LLP to help the company explore financial and strategic alternatives.

The deal has an enterprise value of about $5.1 billion, including net debt, the company said in a statement.

Apollo Global was seeking to convince West Corp to lower its price expectations and accept a $2 billion acquisition offer, Reuters reported earlier this week.

The company has grappled with a debt pile of more than $3 billion and struggled to keep its conferencing technology competitive amid fierce price competition from its peers.

“We believe this transaction achieves our goal of maximizing value for West stockholders and positions the Company for continued success.,” Tom Barker, chairman and chief executive officer of West Corp, said in the statement.

The deal marks the second time West Corp has become a private company in little more than a decade.

Omaha, Nebraska-based West Corp offers technology that allows companies and public safety organizations to launch teleconferencing sessions and manage customer service calls.

“West is the leader in global conferencing and collaboration services, and is well-positioned to capitalize on customer migration to cloud-based solutions,” Matthew Nord, Senior Partner at Apollo, said in the statement.

West Corp has decided to suspend payment of its quarterly dividend as a condition of the merger agreement.

The deal is expected to close in the second half of the year and has been unanimously approved by the company’s board, West Corp said.

Reporting by Abinaya Vijayaraghavan in Bengaluru; Editing by Andrew Hay