Carlyle nears $5 billion deal for Acosta -source

NEW YORK, July 28 Mon Jul 28, 2014 12:37pm EDT

NEW YORK, July 28 (Reuters) - Carlyle Group LP is in advanced talks to acquire Acosta Sales and Marketing, in a deal that could value the consumer goods marketing agency at close to $5 billion including debt, a person familiar with the matter said on Monday.

Carlyle, a Washington, D.C-based buyout firm, is in the final stages of negotiating the deal with Acosta's current private equity owner, Thomas H. Lee Partners LP, and could secure an agreement as early as this week, the person said.

The source spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks are confidential. Carlyle, Thomas H. Lee and Acosta declined to comment. The New York Post reported on the deal earlier on Monday.

The buyout talks underscore the unabated willingness of private equity firms to buy companies from one another as record stock market prices make most acquisitions of publicly listed companies expensive.

Founded in 1927, Acosta offers marketing services to manufacturers, suppliers and producers of food-related consumer packaged goods. It is projected to have fiscal 2014 revenues of about $1.85 billion, according to Moody's Investors Service Inc.

Thomas H. Lee acquired the Jacksonville, Florida-based company in 2011 for more than $2 billion from private equity firm AEA Investors LP.

The latest sale of Acosta would come 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.

Last month, two other private equity firms, Leonard Green & Partners LP and CVC Capital Partners Ltd, clinched a deal to acquire Acosta competitor Advantage Sales & Marketing Inc from buyout peer Apax Partners LLP for just over $4 billion.

Carlyle was the runner-up in the auction for Advantage Sales & Marketing, the source said. (Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Editing by Chris Reese)