Bain nears deal to buy Apex Tool Group: sources

NEW YORK Wed Sep 19, 2012 7:51pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bain Capital LLC is in final discussions to buy Apex Tool Group - a joint venture between Danaher Corp (DHR.N) and Cooper Industries Plc CBE.N - for more than $1.5 billion, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The private equity firm that was co-founded by U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney has prevailed over Platinum Equity LLC and American Securities LLC in the auction for the maker of industrial hand and power tools, the people said.

Bain is expected to pay between $1.5 billion and $1.8 billion for the business, the people familiar with the matter said, asking not to be named because the negotiations are not public.

Apex Tool Group has about $225 million in annual earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) and the owners were hoping to fetch 8 times EBITDA in a sale -- or an enterprise value of around $1.8 billion -- people familiar with the matter said.

A deal may be finalized in the next several days although talks could still fall apart, the people cautioned. Representatives of Bain declined to comment while Apex did not respond to a request for comment.

Reuters reported on August 23 that Bain, American Securities and Platinum Equity were among the final bidders for Apex Tool Group.

Sparks, Maryland-based Apex, which makes Crescent wrenches, Lufkin measuring tapes as well as hand tools for Sears Holdings Corp's (SHLD.O) Craftsman brand, is one of the world's largest makers of hand and power tools, according to its website.

It has dozens of its own brands and also makes some of the tools sold by large retailers including Sears.

Danaher and Cooper formed Apex in 2010 by combining their tool businesses -- Danaher Tool Group and Cooper Tools -- and named Danaher executive Steve Breitzka to head the venture. Each has a 50 percent stake.

The joint venture, which has facilities in more than 30 countries and employees 7,600 workers worldwide, has about $1.2 billion in annual revenues, according to its website.

Apex is among several assets being sold by diversified industrial conglomerates this year as companies seek to streamline their portfolios and also to take advantage of robust financing markets for private equity buyers.

Buyout firms, flush with capital they are looking to put to work and backed by readily available financing for leveraged buyouts, have been actively snapping up assets being carved out of conglomerates.

(Reporting by Soyoung Kim in New York; Editing by Gary Hill and Lisa Shumaker)

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