Reed offers sweetener ahead of auction

Reed Elsevier has decided to offer a top-up loan to the buyer of its business publishing arm ahead of the auction for the business reports The Times.

It announced plans to sell off the £1bn+ magazine division in February. The last few weeks have seen the company engaged in talks with would-be lenders to ensure a staple finance package is in place before the auction starts.

The top-up loan offered by Reed has been put in place to ensure a private equity buyer could deliver on the deal as the banks refused to stump up enough debt themselves to make the deal viable to a private equity buyer.

According to sources, banks have agreed to provide £450m of debt. Reed is believed to be offering £100m of additional debt. The top-end price tag of the business stands at around £1.25bn.

In contrast, a consortium of private equity firms bidding for Informa, a trade fair and scientific journal company, have secured around £1.8bn of debt from banks including ING and Goldman Sachs to support their takeover. However, Informa shares continue to trade at a significant discount to the 506p offer price due to belief in the market that the £3.4bn deal is not deliverable in this climate.

Private equity firms 3i, Advent International, Candover, Cinven, Providence Equity Partners, Permira and Apax Partners have all been rumoured to be interested in acquiring Reed’s business publishing arm.