Sallie Mae Sues Potential Buyers As Deal Evaporates

Back in April, we told you that Sallie Mae was going to be sold to JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America for around $25 billion. Now JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America want to bargain, and Sallie Mae is now suing its potential buyers in an attempt to force them to honor the original deal.

Sallie Mae’s potential buyers gave the nation’s largest student lender until Tuesday to consider their reduced buyout offer in light of what they said was “the new economic and legislative environment that faces the company.”

But despite that pitch, Sallie Mae reiterated Monday that it isn’t interested in the lower price.

In the latest development in a months-long dispute over what could be one of the world’s largest private-equity takeovers, the lender filed a lawsuit to force the buyers to go through with their original $25 billion deal or else pay a $900 million breakup fee.

The buyers group, led by private equity firm J.C. Flowers & Co. and including Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase, has said student loan legislation signed into law by President Bush last month, and weaker economic conditions, makes the $60-a-share price agreed upon in April unacceptable.

The group sent a revised offer of $50 per share to the board of the company, formally called SLM Corp., last week. It planned to walk away if Sallie Mae didn’t accept the new offer, worth about $21 billion, by Tuesday.

Sallie Mae says the investors already knew that new student loan legislation was in the works and the fact that it passed is no reason to back out now. The lawsuit filed by Sallie Mae claims that no “material adverse effect” had occurred that would allow the buyers to back out.

Sallie Mae Suit Seeks $900M Breakup Fee [AP]