Bain Capital, The Blackstone Group, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Cinven are thought to be out of the race, whilst Apax Partners expressed initial interest but did not submit a first round bid, the report said.
All potential bidders and sellers declined to comment or could not immediately be reached.
The transaction, poised to reach €3 billion, is expected to be one of Germany’s largest private equity deals this year. Both firms started the auction process at the end of last year, hiring Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs to help them sell the business.
Based in Essen, Germany, Ista has energy meters installed in 11 million flats and commercial sites in 25 countries. The group reported sales of €672 million in 2011, with an EBITDA of €186 million. It employs more than 4,550 staff.
Charterhouse bought the business in 2007 for €2.4 billion, including debt. CVC, the company’s prior owner, reinvested for a minority stake in May of the same year.
The auction comes as large deals appear to be re-gaining traction in European markets, with the possible sale of French catering business Elior poised to reach nearly €3 billion.
Last year’s biggest sponsor-backed acquisition on the continent was BSN Medical, acquired by EQT from Montagu Private Equity for €1.8 billion.