New in brief

HeidelbergCement AG has received several offers in the range of €2bn for its up-for-sale dry mortar unit Maxit, with financial investors PAI, Texas Pacific Group and Cinven among the last bidders. The German company may also have received offers from strategic investors. One source claims France’s Saint-Gobain has also made a bid. This was, however, not confirmed by a spokeswoman for the French group. HeidelbergCement said last month it is considering selling or listing Maxit, which achieved sales of €1.2bn last year.

• Following the collapse last week of the auction for troubled Italian airline Alitalia, the US private equity consortium comprising TPG and MatlinPatterson are still interested in acquiring the insolvent carrier according to reports. The blame for the collapse of the deal was laid at the door of the Italian government, which had imposed stringent terms on any deal. If talks were to be rekindled the US consortium want to be granted permission to negotiate with unions before making any offer. Other terms that TPG would demand include being given the flexibility by the Italian government to close non-profitable routes as well as open others and to be given the go-ahead to bring in more Italian partners.

• In a surprise offer, private equity group TPG has entered the bidding for Ford’s luxury car makes, Jaguar and Land Rover. TPG is said to have bid alongside other private equity groups thought to include Cerberus Capital Management, Ripplewood Holdings and One Equity Partners. Tate Motors of India is thought to be the most likely trade bidder although Mahindra & Mahindra, also of India and Gaz, the vehicle manufacturer in which Russian tycoon, Oleg Deripaska holds a majority stake have also been linked to the deal.

• Italian media group De Agostini is to acquire French TV producer Marathon from private equity firm Bridgepoint. The acquisition follows De Agnosit’s purchase of Italy’s Magnolia, continuing its moves into the audiovidual market. Advisers for Bridgepoint and Marathon included Linklaters and Frieh associés, Deutsche Bank and ABN-Amro Rothschild.

• French private equity firm Eurazeo is in exclusive negotiations with PAI Partners regarding the acquisition of Elis, a French textile rental and hygiene services specialist. Elis’s core activities include the rental, distribution and cleaning of uniforms, as well as the provision of washroom equipment, floor mats, water coolers and espresso coffee machines. The company has revenues of some €950m and operates in nine European countries. PAI bought Elis in October 2002 for €1.1bn.

FKI shares fell over 15% amid rumours its mystery potential buyer had withdrawn from negotiations. The unidentified bidder is thought to be a private equity group and offered 130p a share to acquire the UK engineering firm in June.