Bertelsmann, the German publishing group, has selected three private equity-backed groups to proceed with final round bids for its science publishing unit BertelsmannSpringer.
Three bidding groups, one comprising Candover and Cinven, another made up of Apax Partners and UK publisher Taylor & Francis, and a final group uniting CVC Capital Partners and US buyout giant Blackstone, have been asked to submit final offers for the business, with bids likely to be around the E1bn mark.
Bertelsmann received seven firm offers for the unit, valuing the business at between E800m and E1.2bn. Soros Private Equity, BC Partners, EQT Partners and Permira have seen their offers rejected by the family-run group.
To many, the alliance of Candover and Cinven remains the most likely winner in the auction, given its recent acquisition of academic and scientific publisher Kluwer Academic from Wolters Kluwer. Late last year, Candover’s Colin Buffin confirmed that the Kluwer acquisition gave the firm an ‘interesting perspective’ on the BertelsmannSpringer deal.
In the six months to June 2002, BertelsmannSpringer reported profits of E26m on turnover of E359m. Bertelsmann, which is selling the business to reduce a debt burden which has increased to E2.7bn during 2002, largely as a result of its acquisition of recording label Zomba last year, is rumoured to be willing to shelve the deal if final bids do not match the group’s E1bn valuation of the division.
BertelsmannSpringer publishes 700 trade magazines and 4,000 new book titles each year via its network of 70 publishing houses and subsidiaries across 15 countries in Europe, the USA and Asia.
Merrill Lynch is overseeing the sale, which is now expected to conclude in early May.