Springer Science owners near deal with BC Partners-sources

FRANKFURT, June 13 Thu Jun 13, 2013 5:58am EDT

FRANKFURT, June 13 (Reuters) - Private equity firm BC Partners is on the verge of clinching the purchase of German publisher Springer Science for somewhere in excess of 3 billion euros, two persons familiar with the negotiations said on Thursday.

BC Partners is the last remaining bidder for the publisher, which Swedish private equity firm EQT and the Government of Singapore Investment Corp (GIC) have said they want to float on the German stock market while continuing to look for a buyer.

The sources told Reuters the owners were no longer sticking to their price of 3.5 billion euros, but BC Partners is not willing to pay more than 3.15 billion.

"BC Partners absolutely wants Springer Science," one person said, adding that a decision could come either on Thursday or Friday.

BC Partners, Springer Science and its owners all declined to comment.

Springer Science+Business Media publishes 2,200 English-language journals and more than 8,000 new book titles every year across five main fields that include science, business, and transport. Its main competitor is Anglo-Dutch publisher Reed Elsevier.

The company announced plans last week to sell new shares worth 760 million euros in a public offer to cut debt, plus a possible further 380 million euros worth of existing shares. That plan could be cancelled if an outright sale is agreed.

British private equity investors Candover and Cinven created Springer Science+Business Media in 2004 by merging Dutch group Kluwer Academic Publishers with German firm BertelsmannSpringer.

In 2009, EQT and GIC bought 82 percent and 18 percent of the company respectively from Candover and Cinven.