UPDATE 1-US industrial groups eye Germany's Bartec -sources

Wed May 23, 2012 12:17pm EDT

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By Simon Meads and Arno Schuetze

LONDON/FRANKFURT, May 23 (Reuters) - Leading U.S. industrial groups and buyout firms are circling Bartec, a German maker of safety systems designed to prevent explosions in hazardous areas of oil and gas production, people familiar with the situation said.

Ametek, Danaher and Honeywell are among those eyeing the maker of analysis and electrical safety systems for companies such as BP and Exxon Mobil, three people said.

Swiss private equity group Capvis, which owns Bartec, hopes to get about 600 million euros ($765 million) for it at auction.

Bartec has attracted a large field of potential suitors due to its strong profit growth at a time of economic turmoil and its focus on essential areas of safety for oil and gas producers, one of the people said.

It expects earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of about 60 million euros in 2012, up from about 50 million last year, a person close to the company said.

Cooper Industries had also expressed interest in the company, but on Monday agreed to be taken over by rival Eaton Corp.

Bartec is one example in a growing list of medium-sized European companies being put up for sale, as buyout groups scour their portfolios for sell-off candidates.

The strong field of Bartec suitors will give heart to private equity firms that their best-performing businesses can attract widespread interest and good prices.

Capvis bought a majority stake in Bartec in 2008 in a deal that valued it at about 300 million euros, according to reports.

The U.S. industrial groups face stiff competition from buyout firms keen to pick up a growing company which also sells its control panels, monitoring equipment and motors to the chemical, mining and pharmaceutical industries.

Private equity groups including Bain, Carlyle Group, Cinven, Charterhouse, Clayton Dubilier & Rice, CVC and Permira are also looking at company data and considering bids, the people said.

First-round bids are due in June, the people added.

Capvis, which specialises in buying mid-sized companies in Switzerland, Germany and Austria, asked Commerzbank and William Blair to look for buyers earlier this year.

Ametek, Honeywell and seller Capvis declined to comment. Cooper Industries and Danaher were unavailable for comment. The private equity firms either declined to comment or were not available for comment. Bartec also declined to comment.