While Bravida could be ready for an initial public offering on the Swedish stock exchange in late spring, the transaction would be prepared for either a listing or a sale, one of the sources said. The Nordic region’s private equity industry has held up relatively well during the recent credit crunch.
Volatile markets have made going public a tough option, but the region’s well-capitalized banks—which have full access to funding markets during the downturn—have been keen to put together funding for small or mid-sized deals. Bravida had net sales of 10.3 billion crowns ($1.49 billion) in 2010 and an operating profit of 621 million crowns. It employs 8,000 people and has offices in Sweden, Norway and Denmark.
Industry peers and potential buyers include players such as Imtech, a Dutch engineering group that owns Swedish installation services firm NVS, and French engineering group Spie. “They are definitely candidates,” a source said, though he added that there were also factors that spoke against the two.
Spie’s private equity owners could have difficulty getting financing while Imtech already has a sizeable presence in Sweden following recent acquisitions, the person said. Last year, Imtech bought Swedish electrical contracting and installation firm NEA, which employs 2,200 and had sales of 2.2 billion crowns in 2010.
Imtech has said it wants to grow substantially in the Nordic region. “The question is if they would want to do such a big acquisition,” said a source.
A person familiar with the matter said earlier this year that Spie’s owners wanted to take the company public in about three years after some planned bolt-on acquisitions in northern Europe.
Triton, which focuses on companies in the Nordics and in German-speaking parts of Europe, bought Bravida at the end of 2006 from Telenor and other principal shareholders after the Norwegian telecoms group decided to divest non-core activities. Bravida recently won its largest contract to date—installing social networking site Facebook’s new data center in the northern Swedish town of Lulea. It is Facebook’s first such site in Europe and will serve more than 800 million site users.
Triton also recently appointed Deutsche Bank as financial adviser for a sale of Swedish specialty steelmaker Ovako, sources have said.
Private equity returns plummeted in the wake of the credit crisis as firms took large hits on companies bought between 2005 and 2008, prompting fears that many could collapse under the weight of their debt. But recent data from Thomson Reuters has shown medium-sized deals in the $400 million to $1 billion range returned almost 25 percent in the 12 months to end June, outperforming European indexes.
Triton was not available for comment.
(Mia Shanley is a correspondent for Reuters in Stockholm; additional reporting by Sven Nordenstam.)