LONDON/MADRID The private equity owner of Applus+ is considering a stock market listing for the Spanish industrial testing, inspection and certification company, three sources with knowledge of the matter said.
Buyout firm Carlyle Group (CG.O) is looking to cash in on a rise in demand for more safety checks in industries such as oil and gas. It would join a growing number of private equity firms taking advantage of improving stock markets this year to try to sell their businesses.
It is asking banks to pitch to manage a process which could see the company go public in Madrid or London early next year, said one of the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Carlyle declined to comment on the plans.
It bought Applus+ in 2007 in a deal that valued the company, which has since more than doubled its revenues, at 1.48 billion euros ($1.9 billion).
Recent disasters like the 2010 BP (BP.L) Gulf of Mexico oil spill and a growing environmental movement have spurred calls for better health and safety standards in the energy industry, boosting the demand for services provided by firms like Applus+.
The Barcelona-based company reported 171 million euros in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization last year, up 22 percent on the year and helped by acquisitions in what is a fragmented industry.
Applus+ has hired John Hofmeister, a former Shell Oil (RDSa.L)
president with a long experience of working for public companies, as a non-executive member of its board, the company said in a statement on Tuesday. He will help to drive Applus+'s expansion in North America and in the services it provides for the oil and gas sector.
Private equity firms buy companies, try to boost their profitability by cutting costs, merging them with rivals or shaking up operations, and then sell them on in the hope of making a return.
Europe saw a pick-up in initial public offerings (IPOs) in the first six months of 2013 as market confidence improved, with the amount raised more than doubling year-on-year.
Much of that activity was driven by private equity firms, which completed 8 billion euros worth of IPOs, including Partnership Assurance (PA.L) in London and Bpost (BPOST.BR) in Belgium, eclipsing the 3.7 billion euros raised in 2012, according to the Centre for Management Buyout Research.
The outlook has become more cloudy since volatility spiked on concerns the U.S. Federal Reserve may trim back its stimulus policies. On Tuesday Deutsche Annington made a fresh attempt at a listing, cutting the money it hopes to raise and the price of its shares, a week after poor demand forced it to scrap its original plans.
But bankers say companies are continuing to prepare to go public later in the year after the usually quiet summer period.
($1 = 0.7773 euros)
(Additional reporting by Anjuli Davies and Kylie MacLellan in London; Editing by Pravin Char and Louise Heavens)