Last word

  • British real estate agency group Countrywide has accepted an indicative take-over offer of around £900m (about US$1.7bn) from private equity group 3i, according to the Daily Telegraph. The paper claimed that 3i had been permitted to conduct due diligence in the run up to a formal offer. Countrywide’s chairman Christopher Sporborg declined to confirm the report. Meanwhile, Countrywide shares traded 1.6% higher at 523 pence in early trading on October 25, translating to a market capitalisation of about £903m. In September 13, it was announced that 3i subsidiary 3i Investments had confirmed that it expected to approach Countrywide regarding a possible offer for the company in conjunction with Countrywide’s managing director Harry Hilland other members of the management team. Countrywide’s management team are being advised by Hawkpoint, while Citigroup is advising 3i on the offer.
  • Shares in UK based Northgate Information Solutions says talks with a potential buyer have ended. In a statement the IT and business process outsourcing (BPO) company confirmed that talks with an unnamed bidder have terminated. Northgate Information shares fell 12.29% in response to the news. An offer had been expected of more than 100 pence per share, valuing Northgate at around £535m (US$993m), excluding debt. A bid of up to 110 pence per share had been tipped by some analysts. Shares in Northgate Information were trading at 82 pence at 12.05 in London, from a close of 93.5 pence on October 24, and below the 88 pence per share close on October 3, prior to the confirmation of an approach. Buyout firms Blackstone and Silver Lake were touted as possible buyers. Both firms were among a consortium of private equity firms that bought US software company SunGard Data Systems in a US$11.3bn deal in 2005.
  • Spanish investment bank GBS Finanzas is reported to be in the process of setting up its own private equity fund. It allegedly expects to raise between €250-€300m.