news in brief

• The management of German timber supplier Pfleiderer have reportedly been in talks with private equity companies One Equity Partners and Allianz Capital Partners regarding a possible sale of the company. According to the reports, a sale could fetch more than €1.5bn. Pfleiderer’s management are thought to have approached the private equity companies and other potential buyers in order to avert a possible hostile takeover after its share price slumped 30.5% last year. Earlier this week, the company also announced the immediate departure of chief financial officer Derrick Noe, without giving any reason, but which, according to the press report, may have been related to the ongoing talks with One Equity Partners and Allianz Capital Partners.

• Pub group Regent Inns yesterday confirmed that it had received approaches from several potential bidders, among which is thought to be private equity group Alchemy Partners. News of the approaches sent shares in Regent, which owns the Walkabout and Old Orleans chains, 27% higher to 21p, which would value the group at about £24m. Regent Inns confirmed that it was in “very early stage discussions” with some of the possible candidates.

Alchemy, which owns 150 pubs, is thought to have approached Regent in 2006, at a time when the company was valued at about £130m. Shares in Regent, which issued a profits warning late last year, have dropped by almost 80% in the past year and Regent said yesterday that since December it had continued to suffer challenging conditions. It also emerged that Sanne Trust, a Channel Islands-based fund management group, has increased its stake from 9.6% to 14.6%.

AIG Capital Partners has acquired 100% of Polskie Przedsiebiorstwo Ekologiczne, which owns 46% of Orzel Bialy, a leading Polish car battery recycler, headquartered in Bytom. Orzel Bialy recycles and produces lead and lead alloys used in the production of new car batteries. Its shares are publicly traded on the Warsaw Stock Exchange. The equity commitment will be funded by AIG New Europe Fund II, a €523m fund focused on direct investments in Central and Eastern Europe.

Carrefour and Sabanci will not be bidding for the US$4bn, 51% stake in Turkish discount retailer Migros which was put up for sale by KOC, Turkey’s leading family-controlled conglomerate. The French and Turkish companies were favourites to win the auction but their departure leaves the field clear for others such as Croatian foods group Agrokor, and private equity firms Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Bain Capital and BC Partners, which has teamed up with Turkven.

• Global private equity firm Advent International sold SAG to EQT in December 2007 for an undisclosed sum. Advent had bought the business in May 2006 with the takeover of RWE Solutions from RWE. Debt financing for the transaction has been arranged by Commerzbank, Royal Bank of Scotland, BNP Paribas and Intermediate Capital Group. Headquartered in Langen, SAG provides building and maintenance outsourcing services for utilities in their transmission and distribution grids. It has 5,900 employees and revenues of about €770m.

• Simon Halabi, a Syrian-born property investor whose Halabi family trust’s £2.5bn London portfolio includes a one-third stake in the Shard of Glass building, is reportedly planning to buy back Esporta, the gym chain he bought from private equity firm Duke Street Capital in November 2006 and whose holding companies went into administration in August last year. According to reports, Halabi is currently putting together a consortium comprising Société Générale, the bank that ploughed £330m into a £460m buyout of the gym chain, and unnamed specialist mezzanine funds.