Sulzer attracts bidders for coatings unit Metco - sources

FRANKFURT Fri Oct 11, 2013 11:19am EDT

FRANKFURT Oct 11 (Reuters) - Swiss machinery manufacturer Sulzer has attracted bids of more than 800 million Swiss francs ($880 million) for its Metco operations from strategic and financial investors, three people familiar with the process said.

Sulzer is selling the unit to concentrate on more lucrative businesses making pumps and equipment and providing services for the oil and gas industry.

Switzerland-based industrial group Oerlikon has made an offer for the world's largest maker of thermal spray coatings used in the car, chemical and energy industries.

Separately, private equity groups including EQT, CVC, Charterhouse and Clayton Dubilier & Rice made tentative offers by a Thursday deadline, the sources said.

A lot of private equity groups showed initial interest, as the industry has been starved of so-called 'primary deals', where private equity buys from a strategic investor rather than a fellow buyout house.

Such deals are more attractive for private equity because they offer greater scope for restructuring and eventual profit.

Two thirds of European private equity activity this year has involved one buyout house selling a company it owns to another.

Russian tycoon Viktor Vekselberg owns a stake in both Sulzer and Oerlikon but a spokesman for his Renova vehicle said its Sulzer and Oerlikon board members were not involved in the Metco sale.

A Sulzer spokeswoman said: "It is a transparent process, in which all bidders have the same chances. We hope that a deal is signed in the first quarter of 2014."

Oerlikon declined to comment.

Sulzer had also approached peers like British Bodycote , U.S.-based Praxair and Japanese IHI Corp, but it is not clear if any of them have expressed interest, the sources said.

Metco had annual sales of 690 million francs and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization of 91.7 million francs last year.

Sulzer and its suitors declined to comment on the transaction. BWK was not immediately available for comment.

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