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Web hosting giant acquired by private equity firm, sparking legal battle

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(Image credit: Shutterstock / metamorworks)

As rumored last month, web hosting giant Endurance International Group (EIG) has been sold - but not to VPN specialist J2 Global as expected.

The owner of well-known web hosting and best website builder brands such as Hostgator, Domain.com, Bluehost, Constant Contact and Resellerclub was worth around $859 million last month, but private equity firm Clearlake has agreed to pay a significant premium and handle the enormous outstanding debt.

In total, the all-cash deal is valued at $3 billion, putting the price of Endurance at $1.34 billion (a near 64% premium) and outstanding debt at $1.66 billion.

EIG deal

Not all parties are happy with the sale, however. Given the fact that EIG shares are on a steep upward trajectory - having risen by 541% since March - some shareholders feel the business was actually under-priced.

Shortly after the announcement, litigation law firm Brodsky & Smith LLC announced it will investigate potential claims against the EIG Board of Directors for “possible breaches of fiduciary duty and other violations of federal and state law in connection with the agreement to be acquired by Clearlake Capital Group”.

The investigation will look into “whether the Endurance Board breached its fiduciary duties to shareholders by failing to conduct a fair process and whether Clearlake is paying too little for the company”.

Over the past two decades, EIG has acquired dozens of brands and its approach to onboarding web hosting companies has often been controversial. It missed the boat when website builders took off, which explains why GoDaddy, Wix and Weebly all have market capitalizations far higher than EIG’s.