Axa Private Equity, a division of French insurance group Axa, is believed to have tabled a bid for Hotel Drouot, the French auction house.
A report in French daily, Les Echos, suggests that Axa PE has offered a figure in the region of E82m, higher than the E68.6m offer made by Barclays Private Equity in January. The offer by Axa covers Drouot's property portfolio, its publishing business and some of the equity held by the house's auctioneers. Axa declined to comment on the rumoured deal.
The original bid for the auction house came from Pierre Berge, former managing director of Yves Saint Laurent Haute Couture, who initially tabled a E45.7m approach to the 110 Hotel Drouot auctioneers who own the shares of the auction firm. Berge withdrew his offer following the higher bid from Barclays PE. ABN Amro is also believed to be interested in acquiring the business.
Hotel Drouot has appointed Lazard and Bredin Prat & Associés to oversee the sale of the firm. A decision is expected to be announced within the next couple of weeks.