Blackboard To Buy Out NTI

CMS/LMS developer Blackboard announced this week its intent to acquire NTI Group. NTI is a provider of mass notification and emergency alert systems used in higher education and K-12. Both companies have already approved the acquisition, and the deal is expected to close this quarter, pending regulatory approval.

"Time-sensitive mass notification systems are a top priority for global academic institutions," said Michael Chasen, Blackboard's president and CEO, in a statement released Jan. 14. "NTI is the leading provider of these systems to educational institutions and government agencies and the addition of their solutions is an excellent next step in the growth of Blackboard's product portfolio. NTI expands our client base significantly and in particular adds more than 1,200 new relationships with key IT decision makers in the K-12 market. I believe the union of our companies will create substantial cross- selling opportunities and add significant shareholder value."

Blackboard said NTI's Connect-ED system is in use in more than 4,900 K-12 schools, colleges and universities. It also serves government and military customers. Connect-ED is a hosted service for education that provides notifications to mobile phones and land lines, text messaging to cell phones and other mobile devices, e-mail notifications, and TTY/TDD messaging. According to research firm the Yankee Group, the mass notification market is expected to become a $1.2 billion industry by 2011.

Under the terms of the deal, Blackboard will acquire NTI for $182 million, $132 million in cash and the remainder in stock. An addition $17 million may be paid in stock based on financial performance over the next two years.

Blackboard also released some details on its performance in the fourth fiscal quarter of 2007, ended Dec. 31. The company said its enterprise licenses totaled 3,935, including the Blackboard Learning System-Enterprise, Blackboard Community System, Blackboard Transaction System, Blackboard Content System, Blackboard Portfolio System, and Blackboard Outcomes System. Revenues for the quarter were $62 million to $63 million, with net earnings of $3.4 million to $3.9 million and a cash flow from operations of more than $25 million. Final results for the quarter and year will be reported Feb. 5.

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About the Author

David Nagel is the executive producer for 1105 Media's online K-12 and higher education publications and electronic newsletters. He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com. He can now be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/THEJournalDave (K-12) or http://twitter.com/CampusTechDave (higher education). You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=10390192.

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