Executives at Endemol, the producer of TV hit Big Brother, have reportedly shortlisted six private equity firms for a €1.8bn (£1.2bn) management buyout.
Apax, Cinven, CVC Capital Partners and Permira, and US firms Providence and KKR, will meet the Endemol board before a formal auction of the business, according to people familiar with the deal cited in a report in the UK daily newspaper The Daily Telegraph.
It is understood that Endemol’s management team has been working with their own investment banking advisers to deal with the approaches, although no bank has yet been formally appointed.
Speculation that Spanish telecoms group Telefonica, the majority shareholder in Endemol, is planning to sell the media company by the end of the year has intensified recently.
However, it is understood that Telefonica has yet to appoint investment banking advisers to deal with any sale. Telefonica is currently advised by Merrill Lynch.
Last November, the Spanish business floated 22 percent of Endemol on the Amsterdam stock exchange to establish a reference market price before deciding whether it should float or sell the rest of the company.
A Telefonica spokesman said: “Endemol is not a core business but we are not in a hurry to sell it.” Other parties declined to comment, the newspaper said.