(Adds analysts' comments, details)
By Sayantani Ghosh
BANGALORE, July 16 (Reuters) - Convergys Corp (CVG.N), which runs customer call centers and handles billing for other businesses, agreed to acquire Intervoice Inc INTV.O for $335 million to bolster its interactive voice response services.
The offer price of $8.25 a share represents a 24 percent premium to Intervoice's Tuesday closing price of $6.67. Shares of Dallas-based Intervoice were trading up 22 percent at $8.12, following the news.
The deal values the company at more than 18 times estimated 2009 earnings, while the application software sector is valued at 26 times forward earnings.
Intervoice, which admitted to have been on the block for a year, did not generate enough interest among buyers, explaining cheap valuation metrics, Kaufman Bros analyst Karl Keirstead said by phone.
The company's shares had fallen nearly 40 percent since its year high of $11.03 in November, before today's gains.
Keirstead said the Street could react negatively to the deal since it may hurt 2008 and 2009 earnings.
Also, Convergys is restructuring its call center unit and the deal might be taking on too much, he added.
However, Oppenheimer analyst Shaul Eyal sounded positive about the deal given Intervoice's higher gross margins, and marginal overlap of products and customers.
"Given the tepid M&A environment, this appears to be a good exit strategy for Intervoice," Eyal said, adding that now is the time for companies with plenty of cash on their balance sheets to go shopping.
In a conference call with analysts, Convergys said it expected to take an acquisition-related one-time charge of $7 million to $10 million in 2008.
In a statement, Cincinnati-based Convergys had said it expected the deal to add to earnings, excluding special items, beginning 2009.
Convergys expects the transaction to close in the third quarter and plans to initially fund it through existing and new credit facilities and cash on hand.
Shares of Convergys were trading down a cent at $13.99 in afternoon trade on the New York Stock Exchange. (Editing by Anil D'Silva)