Is KKR Set to Pay $1 Billion for Corel?

Corel, makers of Corel Draw and a host of other computer software and hardware products, got its start in 1985 in Ottawa and was first publicly traded in 1989. Over the past 30 years, the company’s fortunes have changed several times. Before we go on with the history lesson, we should note that the reason we bring this up is a report from PE Hub that Corel’s current owner is once again considering selling the company for more than $1 billion. PE Hub also claims that the buyer is KKR & Co. Inc. (NYSE: KKR).

Corel’s current owner is private equity firm Vector Capital, which is also Corel’s former owner, having first purchased the company in 2003 for about $124 million (including debt). Three years later, Vector sold about 28% of the company in an initial public offering that raised around $69 million.

In 2010, when the U.S. and global economies entered a recession, Vector once again took Corel private, and that’s where the company remains today. See our coverage of Vector Capital’s take-private deal in 2009, valued at around $30 million.

According to Vector Capital, Corel’s product offerings include such staples as Corel Draw, WordPerfect, WinZip, PaintShop Pro and WinDVD that are sold in more than 75 countries through online retailers, retail stores and through the company’s direct download service.

Since the take-private deal in 2010, Corel “has increased focus on e-Commerce, direct downloads and subscription channels, streamlined its business and targeted acquisitions that leverage the Corel platform.”

Vector Capital claims to have “created a highly profitable consumer software platform that has returned over $300 million in dividends to date.”

No further details are available, but KKR’s shares were trading up about 0.5% Wednesday morning, at $24.22 in a 52-week range of $23.74 to $28.73. The 12-month price target on the stock is $29.67.