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The Deal: Investors Expectations High for Active Network

Tickers in this article: ACTV
NEW YORK (The Deal) -- There appears to be no shortage of strategic options for event software management company Active Network , whether it's a possible takeover by a large media player, a merger with a rival, or even a take-private deal.

Investors certainly expect something big to happen, bidding up the stock 31.5% since Active Network said on Aug. 1 that it would study its options and 129% overall since the year started.

The company could probably fetch somewhere between $700 million and $1 billion in a sale, according to David Stastny, managing director and founding partner of Palo Alto, Calif.-based Centaur Partners LLC, which advises on deals in the software space, such as counseling Coupa Software on its April 10 acquisition of Xpenser, for undisclosed terms.

Despite the run-up in Active Network's stock, "it's not making money, so most logically, it's going to be a strategic buyer" that will bid for the company, Stastny said in a phone interview. "Private equity wants cash flow."

Active Network, whose software helps various sporting, outdoor, community and business organizations manage events and increase participation, posted a loss of about $4.5 million for the quarter ended June 30, representing its eighth consecutive quarterly loss.

San Diego-based Active Network, which trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol ACTV, officially hit the block on Aug. 1 after announcing its board had formed a committee and engaged Citigroup Inc. to review strategic alternatives.

While Active Network noted in the statement that it had received expressions of interest from outside parties regarding investment possibilities and a sale of the company, no developments since the announcement almost two months ago have been revealed. Company officials declined to comment on the process.

But investors seem to believe there is plenty of value waiting to be unlocked. At the start of the year, Active Network was trading at $4.91. By July 31, it had closed at $8.53. It had reached $11.22 midday Thursday.

Amid a resurgence in trade shows and conferences, media companies looking to gain a foothold in the event planning space are the most likely to have an interest in buying Active Network given its growth potential, according to Jonathan Hodson-Walker, managing partner and senior principal of Silverwood Partners LLC, another firm that advises on software deals, recently representing Cogent Research LLC on its sale to private equity-backed Market Strategies International.