Plato Counter-Bids for Software Co., Offer Matched

Renaissance Learning's board of directors will consider Plato's $15.50-per-share buyout offer but is currently recommending that shareholders vote in favor of an offer from Permira Funds, which was recently increased to match Plato's bid.

Bloomington-based Plato Learning, Inc., made an unsolicited counter offer to buy an educational software company that has another proposal on the table.

Plato made the bid late last month for Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin-based Renaissance Learning, Inc. It countered a lower offer from Permira Funds, a global private equity firm, but Renaissance said Monday that Permira increased its offer to match Plato's $455 million bid.

According to a recent Renaissance filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Plato's offer is for $15.50 per share in cash, and it would be financed with $128 million in equity and $410 million in debt.

Renaissance said in its regulatory filing that its board of directors will give “proper consideration in due course” to Plato's offer. But in the meantime, the board will continue to recommend that shareholders vote in favor of the Permira offer.

Permira originally offered to pay $14.85 per share in cash, but Renaissance revealed in a Tuesday regulatory filing that it has matched Plato's bid. Under the new offer, Permira would pay $15 per share for all shares owned by co-founders Terrance and Judith Paul, and all other shareholders would get $16.60 per share-which would result in an aggregate purchase price that's equivalent to Plato's offer.

Renaissance shareholders will vote on the Permira offer at a special meeting scheduled for October 17. According to Reuters, Renaissance said Thursday that it has received antitrust clearance for the Permira buyout.

Plato Learning-which was acquired by Thoma Bravo, LLC, in May 2010-provides online education services for kindergarten through adult learners.

Shares of Renaissance's stock were trading up 0.9 percent at $15.69 on Monday afternoon and trading up 6.5 percent at $16.71 early Tuesday afternoon.