Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS:US) terminated an agreement to acquire Ebix Inc. (EBIX:US) after the insurance software maker said it was told that federal prosecutors had opened an investigation. Ebix shares plunged the most in three years.
The U.S. Attorney in Atlanta wrote in a letter that it was probing allegations of intentional misconduct, Ebix said yesterday in a statement. The company previously disclosed that it faced shareholder class-action lawsuits and a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission probe over the accuracy of its public statements to investors.
“The allegations in the class-action suits are without merit,” Ebix Chief Executive Officer Robin Raina said in the statement. “We want to thank Goldman Sachs for their interest in acquiring Ebix and we are naturally disappointed that we could not complete a transaction at this time.”
Ebix has been the target of anonymous short sellers citing accounting and other irregularities. In February, the company had its biggest one-day drop in almost 11 years in Nasdaq Stock Market trading following a report claiming it hid a $65.8 million related-party loan to its Singapore subsidiary from U.S. regulators.
Goldman Sachs, which had valued the purchase at $820 million, agreed to pay $20 a share for Atlanta-based Ebix.
Ebix fell (EBIX:US) 40 percent to $11.90 at 11:02 a.m. in New York. The shares plunged as much as 50 percent earlier in the session, their biggest intraday drop since May 2010, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
“Due to this recent development, we are unable to move forward with the proposed transaction,” Andrea Raphael, a spokeswoman for New York-based Goldman Sachs, said in an e-mailed statement.
Ebix said it will comply with regulators and continue to evaluate strategic options for the company. Neither company will pay a termination fee, according to the statement.
The firm is “committed to fully cooperate with all the regulatory authorities as they conduct their investigations,” Pavan Bhalla, chairman of the board’s special committee, said in the statement.
Robert Page, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Atlanta, didn’t immediately respond to a call after regular business hours seeking comment on the investigation.
Goldman Sachs affiliate Exchange Parent Corp. was set to acquire Ebix, according to a May 1 regulatory filing. The bank was pursuing the deal mainly with its own capital rather than through private-equity funds, a person briefed on the matter said then.
To contact the reporters on this story: Dakin Campbell in San Francisco at firstname.lastname@example.org; Greg Farrell in New York at email@example.com
To contact the editors responsible for this story: David Scheer at firstname.lastname@example.org; Christine Harper at email@example.com; Michael Hytha at firstname.lastname@example.org