Dealers won't see difference in new Cobalt

DETROIT - Dealers and automakers who use Cobalt Group software and Internet services won't see much of a change in the way the Seattle company does business now that it is private.

Not so with CEO John Holt.

"I no longer need to worry about analysts, conferences, SEC filings and the short-term demands of Wall Street," Holt said.

Cobalt completed its merger with New York investment firm Warburg Pincus on Tuesday, Nov. 13. Warburg Pincus, Cobalt's largest shareholder, spent $38 million to retire outstanding shares.

Cobalt's clients include 12,000 franchised dealers and 14 manufacturers.

Under the terms of the deal, shareholders received $3.50 in cash for each share of common stock they owned.

The deal was to have closed Oct. 30 but was delayed because some shareholders filed a class-action lawsuit to block the merger. Cobalt settled, agreeing to pay $280,000 in legal costs.

Joseph Landy, executive managing director at Warburg Pincus, said Cobalt's new status gives it "flexibility in pursuing strategic opportunities."

Holt founded Cobalt in 1995 and took it public in 1999. At its peak, Cobalt stock traded for $24 a share.

You can reach Chaz Osburn at autonews@crain.com

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