On The Block

ServiceMaster Co., with a market cap of $3.5 billion, is working with investment banks Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs to find a buyer. News reports have circulated that the company has generated interest from LBO shops. The Downers Grove, Ill.-based company’s shares have traded up on the news. The company expects double digit earnings-per-share improvements next year, though its stock price has lagged this year. The company has already had dealings with buyout firms this year, as this October it sold its American Residential Services business to Caxton-Iseman Capital and Royal Palm Capital Partners for $100 million. ServiceMaster provides 24-hour home service for carpet cleaning, lawn fertilizing, furniture restoration, termite protection and other services. Brands include TruGreen ChemLawn and Terminix.

Brawny paper towel and Dixie cup maker Georgia-Pacific is mulling a sale of its European consumer products division. Brands include the Tenderly and Lotus tissue brands. Press estimates put the value of the division at $3 billion and predict private equity buyers. Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs are reportedly the company’s investment bankers. Atlanta-based Georgia-Pacific is a division of Koch Industries, which bought the company for $21 billion last year and made Koch the largest private company in the U.S.

London-based homebuilder Wilson Bowden Plc has acknowledged it is in talks about a sale of the company. The fifth largest homebuilder in Britain is working with HSBC on an auction. Rumored potential buyers include George Wimpey, Redrow, Bellway and Halifax Bank of Scotland. The company’s chairman, David Wilson, said in July he might consider selling his family’s one-third stake in the company. The company logged sales of £1.23 billion last year while press reports peg Wilson as seeking around £2 billion as a price tag.

One update from last week, when this column reported that several parties had shown interest in Dallas-based ElkCorp, which was working with UBS Investment Bank to find bidders. The roofing materials company received a maverick bid from rival Building Materials Corp. of America (BMCA), which offered $35 per share in cash, or $720 million. Wayne, N.J.-based BMCA got off to a rocky start with management, which issued a statement about the bid that reads in part, “Regarding BMCA’s unwillingness to execute a customary confidentiality and standstill agreement, several parties have already signed our form agreement….We have simply requested that BMCA do likewise and participate on a fair and even basis with other interested parties. A number of the assertions in BMCA’s letter are simply incorrect. Among other things, BMCA indicated no willingness to compromise on the terms of the agreement, insisting instead on preferential treatment not justified by their offer.” ElkCorp shares at press time were trading over BMCA’s offer, indicating the Street is waiting on a higher bid.