France’s Ceva Sante Animale attracts interest from buyout firms

• Sale could be worth $1.9-$2.0 bln

• H&F, KKR among interested firms

• Ceva has annual EBITDA of 116 mln euros

BC Partners, Charterhouse, Cinven, CVC, Hellman & Friedman and KKR have shown interest and may submit offers by a late-February deadline, they added.

Ceva, the ninth-largest animal health group globally with sales of more than 600 million euros, may be valued in total at about 1.4 billion-1.5 billion euros ($1.9 billion-$2.0 billion) or 12-13 times its EBITDA of 116 million euros, one of the sources said.

The sources did not specify the size of the stake involved in the sale. Banking sources said in December that bankers were preparing leveraged debt financing of up to 700 million euros.

“Ceva is a successful company that is preparing its future,” a company spokesman said.

Ceva’s Chief Executive Marc Prikazsky has said in the past that the current ownership structure is set to end between mid-2014 and mid-2015.

Ceva was originally part of Sanofi-Aventis, which sold it in 1999 to PAI Partners, which in turn sold it in 2003 to Sweden’s Industri Kapital.

In 2007, management and employees acquired a majority stake, and Euromezzanine and Natixis took a minority stake, backed with 433 million euros of loans, according to Thomson Reuters LPC data. Sagard joined as a minority shareholder in 2010.

Ceva focuses on the research, development, production and marketing of pharmaceutical products and vaccines for pets, livestock, pigs and poultry.

Lazard is organizing the sale, the sources said.

BC Partners, Charterhouse, Hellman & Friedman and Lazard declined to comment, while Cinven, CVC and KKR were not immediately available for comment.

Arno Schuetze is a reporter for Reuters News in Frankfurt; Claire Ruckin is a reporter for Thomson Reuters LPC in London