Sale of Legrand nears

Two private equity firms form part of a consortium in exclusive talks to acquire the electronics firm for circa. $5bn.

Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, the US private equity firm, has reportedly teamed up with UK firm Candover and French conglomerate CGIP to acquire the French electronics business Legrand from Schneider Electric.

The Financial Times reports that the consortium comprising the three firms is in exclusive talks with Schneider regarding a bid which could see the firm valued at around E5bn.

Schneider is looking to have any deal to acquire Legrand pre-approved by the European Commission, following its rejection of the merger between Schneider and Legrand last October. 

There had been speculation that Schneider was contemplating appealing against the EC decision on the back of the recent overturning by the European Court of an earlier EC ruling that had blocked an acquisition by UK travel company Airtours. Today's reports suggest that the firm has decided that any further attempts to negotiate with the EC will be unsuccessful.

Kohlberg Kravis Roberts is currently investing from its $5.1bn European fund which is targeting acquisitions and buyouts in Europe. KKR was not available for comment on today's report. Candover recently closed its Candover 2001 Fund, with total commitments exceeding E2.7bn. The firm declined to comment on the Legrand news. 

Other firms that have expressed an interest in Legrand include UK private equity firm CVC Capital Partners, which has teamed up with Paribas Affaires Industrielles. Buyout specialists Cinven and BC Partners have also formed an alliance, as have The Carlyle Group and Permira.

Merrill Lynch is co-ordinating the sale on behalf of Schneider.