Listed UK buyout group 3i could be set to complete its first successful public-to-private deal this year, after the board of maintenance company Enterprise confirmed it was negotiating a possible £486 million (€720 million; $945 million) deal.
3i, which had a 575 pence per share bid rejected by a committee of independent directors in January, has now increased its offer by 5.2 percent to 605 pence per share. This may be enough to secure the support of Nick Woollacott and Alistair Hetherington, the two non-executive directors who make up the independent committee.
The revised bid values the company, which provides maintenance services to local government, utilities and large corporates, at £486 million.
In a statement, Enterprise said any offer was still conditional on further negotiations, due diligence and secured financing. “Consequently, there can be no certainty that the discussions will result in an offer being made for the Company nor the terms of any such offer.”
Shares in Enterprise rose 8.2 percent this morning to 575 pence – the same price originally offered by 3i last month – after news emerged of the improved bid.
The buyout group is working with Enterprise chairman and chief executive Owen McLaughlan and finance director Neil Kirkby, who were given permission to explore a buyout bid last November.
A board recommendation would be welcome news for 3i, which recently had an offer for Countrywide, a UK estate agency chain, rejected by the company’s shareholders. However, 3i may yet re-enter the bidding if rival buyout firm Apollo Management submits an offer, as expected.
3i was unavailable for comment this morning.