Private equity interest in Infineum

Private equity firms Apollo, BC Partners, Cinven, Carlyle, KKR and Vestar are understood to be planning bids for Infineum, the UK petroleum additives joint venture owned by ExxonMobil and Shell.

JPMorgan is assisting the companies to conduct a strategic review. Shell and ExxonMobil are believed to be looking to secure bids in the range of €2bn (US$2.6bn) to €2.5bn.

Shell and ExxonMobil each hold a 50% stake in Infineum, which was set up in 1999. Infineum, headquartered in the UK, has regional business and technology centres in the UK, US and Singapore.

Apax and Tchenguiz at odds over Somerfield sale

Two of the main shareholders in Somerfield are in dispute over whether to sell the UK supermarket chain. According to reports, global private equity firm Apax Partners and property tycoon Robert Tchenguiz have yet to agree on a sale for Somerfield, with Tchenguiz keen to sell after making losses on investments in rival supermarket chain J Sainsbury and pubs group Mitchells & Butlers.

Apax, however, is stalling due to lack of interest, with just one bid received from rival chain the Co-op, creating uncertainty as to whether a sale would generate an expected price tag of between £2bn and £2.5bn (US$4bn and US$5bn). Co-op’s bid is said to be well below that valuation.

Other retailers such as Marks and Spencer, Waitrose, William Morrison and J Sainsbury are not believed to have submitted proposals.

Saint-Gobain and Wendel reach agreement

Wendel, the French investment group, has reached an agreement with Saint-Gobain regarding its stake in the French glass manufacturer.

Wendel has since mid-2007 built an 18% stake in Saint-Gobain. Wendel and Saint-Gobain agreed on March 20 that Wendel would not increase its stake in Saint-Gobain beyond 21.5%. Under the agreement, Wendel will exercise voting rights over no more than 34% of Saint-Gobain’s shares. Wendel will get three seats on the Saint-Gobain board.

3i shifts to later-stage and buyouts

3i, a London-listed global private equity firm, has made a surprise decision to abandon investment in early-stage businesses in order to focus on later-stage and buyout transactions.

Philip Yea, chief executive of 3i, is reported saying that “early-stage has not been an easy place”. He added that there is “more value for us in later-stage companies internationally and that is what we have been doing more and more”.