Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Argenta Discovery looking at float or sale.

Argenta Discovery, the Essex, UK-based drug-development business, is considering a sale or flotation. Although chief executive Chris Ashton said the privately-owned company was not for sale, he confirmed bankers had been hired to consider options. The business is focused on respiratory drugs which have drawn the interest of giants such as AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline. Argenta investors include MVM, ABN Amro and 3i; the company earned �8.5m in revenues from carrying out research for other parties.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Gartmore having strategic review

Gartmore, the UK fund manager, may soon be up for sale. Owner Nationwide has hired Morgan Stanley to look into strategic possibilities which may include a sale or flotation. US insurance business Nationwide acquired Gartmore for almost �1bn five years ago from Royal Bank of Scotland and, according to analysts could be worth that if sold to a rival or floated. BNP Paribas of France is rumoured to be a potential suitor. Gartmore could prove attractive to asset managers and banks outside the UK, particularly for its hedge-fund and distribution capabilities.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Alea Group, the ailing London-listed insurance business that is up for sale, could be sold in pieces, according to a report in The Deal's Auction Block. Alea, which is based in Bermuda, has gross premium revenues of almost USD 1.6bn.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Terra Firma likely to sell East Surrey Holdings Water

Terra Firma is likely to sell East Surrey Holdings' water business after it acquires the UK utility group. The UK-based private equity group, has already seen six bids of approximately �190m for the water operations. The water businesses include the Sutton and East Surrey water company and ES Pipelines, a gas connections operation. Terra Firma is thought to have shortlisted financial buyers and industry players to buy the water business. The Takeover Panel has ruled that Terra Firma must proceed with its takeover bid for East Surrey which will probably lead to a break-up of the company. Citigroup, which is advising Terra Firma, and Barclays Capital, will arrange debt financing for the proposed �453m takeover of East Surrey.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Centrica to sell OneTel

Centrica, the owner of British Gas, has confirmed it will be selling its OneTel telecoms business. The utility wishes to concentrate on its energy operations and will invest the sale proceeds in this area of the business.

Spirent to sell network products division

Telecommunications equipment company Spirient announced plans to sell its network products division. The transaction is expected to raise about �260m. The HellermanTyton network focuses on cable fastenings and connections ofr cars and electrical goods and is an awkward fit with Spirent\\\'s other operations.

Collins Stewart Tullett open to approaches

Collins Stewart Tullett, the world\\\'s second largest inter-dealer broker, said yesterday it had opened its books to a number of potential buyers. The company\\\'s pre-tax profit fell by 10 per cent to �39.9m in the first half.

Cool reaction to Peacock bid

The board of discount fashion retailer Peacock confirmed it had received an indicative approach valuing the company at �404m. Investors, however, reacted coolly to the news, with shares languishing below the proposed offer price.

BAE naval unit at centre of bid

BAE Systems has moved closer to selling its German naval electronics business, Atlas Elektronik, after Germany\\\'s ThyssenKrupp and European defence group EADS joined forces to bid for the unit. There is competition across Europe for the business.

Select Services is for sale

Select Services Partner is for sale with an expected price tag of more than �300m. Compass Group is being prepared by Citigroup. Private-equity and trade bidders are thought likely to be interested. SSP brands include Upper Crust and Burger King and they operate at stations, airports and motorway-service stations in dozens of countries.

Brook Leisure for sale

Brook Leisure, the UK night-club operator, is for sale with an estimated �50m. NM Rothschild had been appointed to find a buyer for the 12-year-old company. The business comprises more than ten properties and has a turnover of �20.6m.

Mortgage company for sale

The London Mortgage Company, the British mortgage lender owned by Brenninkmeijers of Holland, is for sale. Hawkpoint is to manage a sale of the business which, according to bankers may fetch �40m. The company focuses on high-margin, sub-prime mortgage lending. Investment banks and niche lenders were likely to emerge as potential suitors.

Swan Hellenic may be sold by Carnival Corporation

Carnival Corporation, the dual-listed cruise-ship business, is considering whether to sell Swan Hellenic. Apparently they have been contacted by investors who wish to buy Swan but need additional funding. the business is believed likely to fetch around �50m although it has not yet been put on the market. Swan operates cultural holidays aimed at the grey market.

DIY group under strategic review

The country\\\'s third biggest DIY chain, Focus, has been forced to overhaul its business strategy in the face of a tough outlook for the sector. Focus was singled out by credit rating agency Standard

Poloron does not rule out further disposals

Polaron, the listed UK technology company, expects to continue growing via both organic and M

Volkswagen to sell Europcar

Volkswagen, Europe\\\'s biggest car group is tipped to appoint CSFB the investment bank, to sell Europecar, its car rental arm. Europcar which is one of the worlds largest car rental companies with 2685 locations in 123 countries and a fleet of more than 120,000 vehicles. The expected sale could raise �1.3bn.

Island Gas to be valued at �50m

Island Gas, the UK-based energy group, has been put up for sale with a likely valuation in excess of �50m. Several trade and buyout groups are bidding for Island. Island Gas chairman Francis Gugen has hired Houlihan Lokey Howard

Inchcape Shipping Services for sale

Inchcape Shipping Services (ISS) is for sale, with Lazard advising on the auction. Inchcape owner Electra Partners, the buyout group, has hired Lazard to auction the logistics division. Inchcape could fetch up to �200m.

Cabot financial group to be sold or floated

Barclays Private Equity (BPE) is believed to be thinking about either floating its Financial services group Cabot. It may however sell it to a trade bidder or to another buyout group However, no decision will be made until 2006. Cabot, which acquires defaulted debt from banks, has increased its value to �250m. Its 1.2m consumer accounts have a value of around �1.5bn.

Carlton 021 up for sale.

ITV has put its Carlton 021 outside broadcast business up for sale it has been reported. The UK-listed television broadcaster anticipates completion of the sale in the next couple of months. Several bids have come in for the Carlton 021 arm and the sale price is likely to reach �10m.

Your Communications fails to find a buyer

Your Communications has failed to attract a buyer after almost 12 months on the market. The Manchester mobile-services business, originally hoped to fetch around �200m. Although offers were received, none of them approached that figure. Scottish telecoms company Thus is believed to have been unwilling to pay in excess of �150m. Carphone Warehouse is also thought to have been a suitor. Ernst

Furniture land in administration

Furnitureland, the UK-based furniture retailer, was put into administration. The company collapsed with debts of approximately �30m. The administrator said the firm will continue trading until October 5 to try to find a buyer. However, despite a certain level of interest, the administrator said there is a chance the group might find no buyers. Hilco, the corporate recovery specialist, said it had had a look at Furnitureland, but said the owners, SB Capital, had not had much luck with the business.

Marrakech may float or sell

Marrakech, the private Anglo-Irish procurement software company, is not ruling out any options going forward, according to chief executive John Bantleman. Ideally, the company would list on AIM during the second half of next year, although a trade sale or hunt for a strategic investor would not be out of the question he said.The Irish Independent this week reported Marrakech had recorded an after-tax loss of EUR 4.4m last year, bringing its retained year-end losses to EUR 67.2m.

Pelikon to list then sell

Pelikon, the private UK display technology company, is planning to list on AIM and then expects to sell out, according to chief executive Mike Powell. Having just raised �5m in a third round, Powell believes the company will be ready to list in about 18 months. The company could

Robinia Care Group being considered for auction.

Robinia Care Group, the UK nursing-home operator, is being considered for auction. Rumours are that Robinia\\\'s proprietor, private-equity firm Bridgepoint, has hired NM Rothschild to review the company, which could fetch around �80m.Robinia comprises Ark Care nursing homes and Life Links, a business specialising in patients with autism. The company\\\'s sales are approximately �34m per year from 500 beds in 80 English care homes across the South, South East and Midlands.

Collins Stewart Tullet appointed HSBC to advise on possible sale

Collins Stewart Tullet, the UK listed broker, has appointed HSBC to advise them on a possible sale. Collins Stewart Tullet is a UK-based company that acts primarily as a institutional broker, offering services related to broking, market making and corporate finance. In the first half of 2005, Collins Stewart Tullet reported revenue of �410.7m.

Compass hired Citigroup to advise on sale of Harry Ramsden travel concessions

Compass has hired Citigroup to advise on the sale of its Harry Ramsden\\\'s travel concessions. A sale price of �1bn is anticipated, the report said. Departing chief executive Mike Bailey, said the UK-listed restaurant and catering group would dispose of the Select Service Partners (SSP) business. SSP\\\'s revenues (including fuel) are expected to be approximately �1.9bn, EBITDA of approximately �160m, and EBIT of approximately �115m.

Real Affinity back on the market 18 Months

Real Affinity, the AIM-listed marketing-services business, will be back on the market within 18 months, according to chairman Stuart Pearson. The company has just agreed an all-share sale to AIM-listed Langbar International, of which Pearson is chief executive. Pearson said that the business would grow by making small acquisitions and would then consider a sale in 12 to 18 months. He ruled out the possibility of a flotation, saying that the company was not large enough. Real Affinity\\\'s annual turnover to the end of March this year rose significantly to �8.3m from �4.6m profits before tax to the end of June were �18.2m.

Equitable Life considering options

Equitable Life could make a decision regarding its long-term future by spring 2006 according to sources at the company. A sale or part-sale of its operations was one option under consideration. Equitable Life had net resources of �713m at end June 2005, a 30% increase compared with figures recorded at end June 2004.

Norbain appointed CSFB

Norbain, the UK electronic security products business, has appointed Credit Suisse First Boston to look for a buyer. PPM Capital, Norbain\\\'s proprietor, has put a �140m price tag on the Reading-based company. Private-equity business Electra Partners has already entered talks and is hoping to buy the business. Norbain would be a valuable partner for Electra\\\'s Gardiner, which also provides security cameras and alarms, and would make Gardiner into the largest such supplier in Europe.

Thornbury Nursing Services to consider options

Thornbury Nursing Services, the UK nursing agency, has appointed NM Rothschild to consider future options. The owners Duke Street are not planning a formal auction but will examine any offers for the business. The independent company is worth around �80m and provides healthcare professionals to the NHS and private sectors.

HMV to be prevented from bidding for Ottakars?

Ottakar\\\'s, the UK bookstore group, has seen book publishers move to put the brakes on an offer for it by HMV. Publishers Association president, Richard Charkin, has met with the Office of Fair Trading to push for referral of any such bid. Charkin is quoted as praising his collaborators on the effort for doing an excellent job. He also indicated that an HMV-Ottakar\\\'s group would control half the UK books market at least. Some authors have also contacted the OFT, expressing unhappiness at the prospect of such a tie-up. If the deal is referred, the HMV offer will lapse.

Holiday Inns for sale

A package of 11 Holiday Inn hotels throughout the UK has been put up for sale with an estimated price tag of �60m. The properties, which have a total of about 1,800 rooms, were among the 73 hotels bought by LRG Acquisition from InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) this year for �1.022 billion through a so-called sale and manage-back. A review concluded that the hotels would require significant investment to meet Holiday Inn brand standards.

Aegis facing an auction

Media buying group Aegis is facing the prospect of an auction. Interested parties are said to include Sir Martin Sorrell of the global advertising group WPP, Maurice Levy of the French group Publicis, and Vincent Bollor�, the shadowy

Marconi effectively up for sale

Telecoms company Marconi is effectively up for sale, having failed to secure a contract to provide the intelligence for BT\\\'s 21st Century Network (21CN). The failure to win a stake in the construction of 21CN was a shock and has forced the company to cut 800 jobs. It is thought likely that Swedish rival Ericsson may pay up to �700m for Marconi.

PTL close to sale

UK polymer training group PTL is close to being sold to a new owner. Negotiations have reached an advanced stage with an unnamed company, said current owner Polymer Industry Education and Training Trust (PIETT).The trustees received an unsolicited approach from the company during the summer, which intends to continue polymer training at PTL�s large facility in Telford.

Oxford Street site for sale

A prime Oxford Street site has been put up for sale with a price tag of more than �300m. The site at 33 Cavendish Square is the largest real estate block to come on to the market in London\\\'s West End for several years. It houses the London College of Fashion, BHS and Zara as well as 200,000 sq. ft. of office space. The total income for the building is �18m a year.

Somerfield sale in doubt

One of Somerfield\\\'s two possible suitors has withdrawn from the bidding, increasing the prospect that the UK\\\'s fifth-biggest supermarket group may remain on the market. Property group London

NTL under pressure to sell UKTV stake

The BBC is to put pressure on the merged NTL and Telewest to sell or cut its stake in UKTV, the joint-venture television business, once the two companies have completed their �3.33bn merger. This would help the BBC to value its own 50 per cent stake in UKTV, a joint venture with Flextech, the television content company which is part of Telewest. Sky is said to be keen to take control of UKTV.

Sesame, the Misys owned financial advisory service may be sold off at bargain price

Sesame, the Misys-owned financial advisory service, may be sold off at a bargain price, according to stockbroker Cazenove, analysts have stated that Sesame had proved difficult to sell since it was first put on the market earlier in the year, and consultants had now been hired to hasten the deal. Original estimates of the UK business from outside had put its value at around �300m but according to Cazenove that is now more likely to be between �50m and �60m.


Xoomworks, the private UK professional services company, would most likely exit via a trade sale with a 2-5 year timeline, according to chief executive Steve Jackson.Larger players could well be attracted by Xoomworks\\\' blue chip client base. Last year\\\'s revenue was �3.5m, with this figure expected to rise 30% this year. Jackson identified the group\\\'s main competitors as large consulting firms such as IBM and Accenture, as well as service departments within software manufacturers.

British Nuclear Group (BNG) would prefer to be sold as single unit.

British Nuclear Group (BNG), the UK state-owned nuclear power company, would prefer to see itself sold as a single entity, but would also consider partial options for the business, according to a company spokesperson. BNG (formerly known as British Nuclear Fuels Limited, BNFL) announced a formal sale process on 30 September to comprise a series of the group\\\'s assets, including the remaining magnox nuclear power stations in the country (both those currently being de-commissioned and those still in use), the Sellafield nuclear re-processing business and an extensive international nuclear clean-up business.

Wilmington could have further non core disposals

Wilmington, the UK-listed publishing group, could have further \\\'non-core\\\' disposals to make. Industry sources also said that Wilmington is likely to continue disposing of some of its publishing assets. These may include the furniture and automotive titles.

Swedish Tele2 may sell UK operations

Swedish telecoms group Tele2 is considering a sale of its UK operations, which could be worth about �300m. This is part of a review of the business, which has been hit by fierce competition in the home phone market.

Tele2 to pull out of swedish group

Tele2, the Swedish telecoms group, confirmed that it is looking to pull out of the UK telecoms sector. Tele2 is looking to sell its UK operations as the UK unit is having problems due to reduced prices and tough competition to gain clients. The Swedish telecom operator is now considering whether to invest further or exit.

BBA rumoured to be thinking of hiving off divisions

BBA, the UK-listed engineering group, has been the subject of break-up speculation according to reports. BBA is looking to sell its non-woven plastics business. BBA wants to be reclassified as an aerospace company, as such groups are usually rated higher than engineering groups. BBA\\\'s other division provides services for corporate jets. The company has a market capitalization of �1.40bn.

Compass to be sold?

Compass, the contract caterer is in the limelight amid talk that the company could be a private equity takeover target. Despite the cash-generative nature of its operations, Compass has hitherto not been considered a leveraged buyout candidate on account of its pension fund deficit, which currently stands at �450m. A buyer may be sought for Compass\\\'s Select Service Partner (SSP) division, which operates Moto service stations in Britain and the Upper Crust sandwich chain and Cafe Ritazza coffee bars in railways stations.

Harley Medical group on the market

Harley Medical Group has hired M

Approaches for Filofax

Filofax, the UK personal-organiser business, has received approaches from a number of private-equity bidders. Dunedin, the private-equity company which currently owns Filofax, is set to sell the business and could make over �50m. It acquired Filofax five years ago for �17m, the report noted.

Cleanaway to be sold within a year

Brambles Industries, the listed Australian wooden pallet supplier, is expected to eventually sell its Cleanaway UK business. Cleanaway UK could be sold within 12 months for up to AUD 680m (USD 512m).

Potential sale of DS Smith\\\'s plastics operations

DS Smith, the listed UK packaging group that announced poor results earlier this week, would be more likely to sell off its plastics packaging operations than another part of its business. DS Smiths\\\' plastics business had a turnover of �208.7m in 2004 and operating profit of �14m.

Wold Trade Group considering options

World Trade Group, a privately owned UK-based conference business, is considering its strategic options and could be sold. World Trade Group organises conferences and exhibitions in several b2b verticals, such as drug manufacturing, logistics, human resources and marketing. The company makes an EBITDA of around �2m on a turnover undertood to be in the low teens.