Exclusive: Leonard Green, CVC near deal to acquire Advantage Sales - sources

NEW YORK Mon Jun 16, 2014 5:00pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Private equity firms Leonard Green & Partners LP and CVC Capitals Partners Ltd are in advanced talks to acquire consumer marketing company Advantage Sales & Marketing Inc (ASM) for more than $4 billion, people familiar with the matter said on Monday.

Leonard Green and CVC prevailed over other buyout firms in the auction of ASM, which is currently owned by private equity firm Apax Partners LLP, the people said, cautioning that the deal had not yet been finalized.

The sources asked not to be identified because the negotiations are confidential. Representatives of Apax, Leonard Green, CVC and ASM declined to comment.

Founded in 1987, Irvine, California-based ASM provides outsourced sales, marketing and merchandising services to manufacturers, suppliers and producers of consumer packaged goods in the United States.

The industries ASM serves include groceries, drugstores, convenience stores, consumer electronics outlets and sporting goods shops.

Apax acquired ASM from buyout firm J.W. Childs Associates LP and Bank of America Merrill Lynch's private equity division in 2010 in a deal whose value people familiar with the matter pegged at the time at around $1.8 billion.

Reuters reported in April that Apax was working with Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAC.N) on an auction of ASM.

ASM's sale comes as private equity is increasingly targeting companies that are expected to benefit from a recovery in consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity.

In March, for example, buyout firm Berkshire Partners LLC inked an agreement to acquire Catalina Marketing Corp, which claims to have the world's largest shopper history database, from Hellman & Friedman LLC for more than $2 billion.

ASM's closest private equity-owned peer is Acosta Sales & Marketing, a food marketing company that Thomas H. Lee Partners LP acquired in 2011 for more than $2 billion.

Leonard Green and CVC have worked together on deals before. They jointly acquired warehouse club chain BJ’s Wholesale Club Inc in 2011 for $2.8 billion.

(Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Lisa Shumaker)

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