Report: Private equity firms eye €800m deal for Clece

Permira, Apax, CVC and PAI are reportedly lining up against two trade buyers as they consider bids to carve out Clece, a support services firm, from construction conglomerate ACS in the latest example of a Spanish building group selling off non-core assets.

Permira, Apax Partners, CVC Capital Partners and PAI Partners are considering bids in the range of €700 million to €800 million for Spanish support services firm Clece, according to Spanish paper Expansiòn.

Apax declined to comment on the situation, while none of the other named buyers were available at press time.

Clece provides a range of services, including cleaning, maintenance and logistics. It is currently a subsidiary of Spanish construction conglomerate Actividades de Construcción y Servicios (ACS), a multinational which turned over more than €11 billion in the first six months of 2008.

Clece: up for sale

ACS is in the process of selling off some non-core assets in an attempt to reduce its debt burden. In the first half of the year, the group sold several South American assets including holdings in airports in Chile, Colombia, Jamaica and Mexico and the sale all its shareholdings in InvinSL, a Chilean toll-road company.

Spanish construction companies have during 2008 made the transition from buyers to sellers, Francisco Churtichaga, head of Doughy Hanson’s Madrid office, recently told sister publication Private Equity International.

“Construction conglomerates will be divesting all sorts of non core assets in natural resources, waste management and transport. Next year will throw up a lot of opportunities in that regard. There are a lot of assets which do not really belong in the construction groups,” he said.

In August, 3i bought a 75 percent stake in funeral operator Mémora Inversiones Funerarias from another Spanish building conglomerate, Accion.

The report in Expansiòn also noted two potential trade buyers for Clece: Dutch multinational support services group ISS – which the paper suggests could team up with Nordic buyout firm EQT Partners – and Spanish support services group Eulen.

All the cited firms have previously been active in the Spanish market. Apax currently owns Spanish bakery group Panrico, which it bought in 2005, while Permira, CVC and PAI all hold stakes in the 2005 €1.44 billion buyout of Spanish fashion retailer Cortefiel.