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After months of government scrutiny, $1.65B Cvent acquisition is finalized

Cvent employees, who were raising money for cancer research (and growing moustaches) as part of ‘Movember,’ at the company’s Tysons Corner headquarters. (Courtesy of Cvent)

After months of government scrutiny, Tysons Corner-based Cvent on Tuesday announced it had received the green-light for a takeover by Vista Equity Partners in a $1.65 billion deal finalized Tuesday morning.

In addition, the company said in a separate announcement that it has merged with Lanyon, a Dallas-based competitor also owned by Vista, to create the world’s largest software firm focused on event-management services.

The combined company, which will be privately held and headquartered in Tysons Corner, will operate under the Cvent brand. Reggie K. Aggar­wal, Cvent’s founder and chief executive, will remain at its helm.

“We think one plus one equals three in this situation,” Aggarwal, 47, said in an interview. “We’ll have more resources, more capital and we’ll be able to innovate faster because we’ll have two companies with combined assets and know-how.”

A comeback story: Cvent, once on the brink of bankruptcy, sells for $1.65 B

The announcements come several months after Austin-based Vista first declared plans to buy Cvent for $36 a share, a 69 percent premium over the company’s stock price on the trading day before the deal was announced.

Since then, however, the acquisition has come under scrutiny from antitrust regulators. In late June, the Justice Department asked Cvent and Vista for additional information related to their planned merger, according to a company filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The New York Post, citing unnamed sources, reported that regulators had also asked for an extended review in early November  — a request that Vista reportedly denied.

“At the end of the day, the Department of Justice saw there were two market leaders joining forces,” Aggarwal said. “They wanted to make sure this was a positive thing for customers, not negative. I think, in the end, they concluded that this would not hamper innovation.”

A spokesman for the Justice Department declined to comment.

The merger of Cvent and Lanyon brings together two of the country’s largest events-management companies. Cvent, which was previously publicly-traded, generated $168.6 million in revenue during the first three quarters of the year. The company has 2,000 employees, including 700 in its Tysons Corner office.

Aggarwal would not disclose Lanyon’s annual revenue or its employee count. He said Cvent will keep Lanyon’s offices in Dallas, but is still determining if — and where — lay-offs may occur.

“The direct answer is: We’re evaluating things as part of the integration, but we haven’t made those plans yet,” Aggarwal said.

He added that the combined company will have about 30,000 customers. Cvent currently has 17,000 clients, including big-name companies such as Walmart, Marriott International and Hilton Worldwide.

Aggarwal founded the company during the dot-com boom in 1999. He started with a $100,000 loan from his parents, and boosted the company from six employees to 125 in a matter of months. But by late 2001, it was on the brink of bankruptcy. Aggarwal laid off 80 percent of his workforce and spent the next decade building his company back up.

Cvent CEO set to make $164M following company’s sale

It paid off: Aggarwal received an estimated $164.41 million from the sale of his company, of which he owned 4.31 million shares. Cvent has evolved through the years, from a sort of Evite for corporations to a full-service operation that helps meeting planners find the right venues and manage everything from booking rooms to printing badges. With the addition of Lanyon, Aggarwal says the company is poised to become even broader in scope.

“The combined resources will be game-changing,” he said. “There is a lot of green field optimism.”

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