Springer Science owners to push ahead with sale -sources

FRANKFURT, March 15 Fri Mar 15, 2013 3:50pm EDT

FRANKFURT, March 15 (Reuters) - Private equity firm EQT and sovereign wealth fund GIC are set to forge ahead in their efforts to offload Springer Science+Business Media, seeking buyers while also preparing a flotation as an alternative, several people close to the process told Reuters.

Sources had told Reuters last year that EQT and GIC were seeking a buyer who they hoped would pay as much as 4 billion euros ($5.2 billion) for the German speciality publisher of scientific journals, but they have so far not made any notable progress.

A person close to the owners said potential bidders would be sent information packets next week, and two bankers familiar with the transaction said initial bids were due in late April or early May.

They said likely bidders included private equity firms BC Partners, Providence, Carlyle and Hellman & Friedman.

Carlyle had no comment. The others cited as potential bidders were not immediately available.

German media group Bertelsmann, meanwhile, said it was not considering buying Springer Science, months after the Financial Times said Bertelsmann was weighing a bid.

"Business Information is a strategic growth platform. That is why we are pursuing several investment options," a spokesman for Bertelsmann said on Friday. "Springer Science is not one of them."

The person close to the owners said that EQT and GIC have also started working on a prospectus for an initial public offering (IPO). According to the bankers, an IPO would be possible around late June or early July.

Sweden-based EQT declined to comment. GIC, the investment vehicle of the government of Singapore, was not immediately available for comment.

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