(By Balachander) Quest Software Inc. (NASDAQ: QSFT) shares rallied after the IT solutions company received a new proposal from an unnamed strategic bidder at $25.50 a share, topping an earlier offer of $23 a share by a private investment firm.
On Thursday, shares jumped 9.26 percent to trade at $26.07 as traders placed bets a competing offer could emerge.
The latest proposal represents a premium of 7 percent to Quest's previous closing price of $23.86.
The market has been speculating that Dell Inc. (NASDAQ:DELL) may target Quest Software. Dell has been on a buying spree last year snapping up companies in different verticals, as it wants to diversify itself from a hardware company to the high-margin software, security and cloud computing businesses.
In March, California-based Quest agreed to be taken private by Insight Venture Partners for around $2 billion. Quest had 60 days to solicit and evaluate proposal from potential buyers. Quest had agreed to pay a break-up fee of $4.2 million to Insight during the "go-shop period". If the merger is terminated after the go-shop period, it would pay $6.3 million in break-up fee.
Last month, Quest had received "multiple written proposals" that were higher than Insight's merger agreement.
Quest has not yet recommended the "superior" proposal from the strategic bidder, as Insight has the right to match the proposal before the expiry of a minimum three-business-day period.
Quest Software provides IT management services that enable more than 100,000 global customers solve complex IT challenges ranging from database management, data protection, identity and access management, monitoring, user workspace management to Windows management.
In fiscal 2011, the company's earnings per share plunged 54 percent to 49 cents from $1.06 a share last year. Total revenues rose 11.8 percent to $857.4 million. For fiscal 2012, Quest expects total revenue to grow in the range of 8.5 percent to 10 percent.