Four buyout groups vie for GEA heat exchangers unit - sources

FRANKFURT, March 17 Mon Mar 17, 2014 10:52am EDT

FRANKFURT, March 17 (Reuters) - German industrial machinery and process engineering group GEA has picked four final bidders for its heat exchangers division in a potential 1.2 billion euros ($1.6 billion) deal, three people familiar with the matter said.

A consortium comprising EQT and industrial services group Bilfinger, as well as Permira, Onex and Triton have been asked to hand in final bids by an early April deadline, the sources said.

The Heat Exchangers division, GEA's second-largest business by revenue, makes equipment for a wide range of applications from air conditioning to cooling towers.

But GEA last year described the business as non-core and as offering limited synergies with its five other divisions - Food Solutions, Farm Technologies, Mechanical Equipment, Process Engineering and Refrigeration Technologies.

The potential buyers are mainly interested in the air conditioning and industrial cooling applications, but less so in the power plant-related sub-unit, the sources said.

GEA, EQT, Bilfinger, Permira and Triton declined to comment, while Onex was not immediately available for comment.

($1 = 0.7181 euros) (Reporting by Arno Schuetze; Editing by Mark Potter)

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