German media group Bertelsmann is to provide eight groups with financial data about its science and business publishing unit Bertelsmann Springer, with private equity firms featuring prominently among the bidding parties.
The German group received 14 indicative offers for the business, ranging from E800m to E1.2bn, and has whittled this list down to eight. Reuters reports that several bidders have submitted inflated bids to ensure their presence in the final round of bidding. The unit, which encompasses approximately 70 publishing houses and subsidiaries across 15 countries in Europe, the USA and Asia, is expected to fetch around E1bn.
Private equity bidders for the business include a joint offer from Candover and Cinven, which has been linked with a bid for Bertelsmann Springer since acquiring Kluwer Academic from Dutch publisher Wolters Kluwer for E600m in October.
CVC Capital Partners has joined forces with Blackstone Group, whilst Apax Partners has teamed up with UK publisher Taylor & Francis. Soros Private Equity, BC Partners, EQT Partners and Permira have also moved through to the next round of bidding.
In the six months to June 2002, Bertelsmann Springer reported profits of E26m on turnover E359m. Bertelsmann is believed to be willing to shelve the deal if final bids do not reach the E1bn target. Bertelsmann Springer publishes 700 trade magazines and 4,000 new book titles each year.
Merrill Lynch is overseeing the sale, which is expected to close in April.