* Furniture chain seen fetching EV of 700 mln euros-sources
* Latest sign of flurry of French LBO activity
* Process seen starting late February
By Christian Plumb
PARIS, Feb 4 Investment banks Lazard and Messier
Maris have been mandated to sell Maisons du Monde, a furniture
store chain owned by private equity firms Apax and LBO France,
sources familiar with the deal said on Wednesday.
Lazard and Messier Maris, the boutique bank controlled by
former Vivendi Chief Executive Jean-Marie Messier, were chosen
last week to run the process, expected to kick off later this
month, the sources said.
The sources said a deal could give Maisons du Monde, which
was valued at 435 million euros when LBO France and Apax
acquired control in 2008, an enterprise value of at least 700
million euros ($958.72 million).
"They want to get the deal done before June," said one
source. "It looks like the year-end numbers came out decently,
so they want to get it off to the market before the tide turns."
LBO France and Apax, which each own 35 percent stakes in the
furniture chain, each declined to comment. Lazard and Messier,
also declined to comment.
Jean-Marie Messier and his partner Erik Maris are both
former Lazard bankers; Messier is a prolific dealmaker best
known for building Vivendi into a telecoms and media empire
before its spectacular crash in 2002.
Potential strategic bidders include South African furniture
retailer Steinhoff International, which recently bought
French retailer Conforama, two sources said. Steinhoff declined
But Xavier Marie, the chain's founder and CEO, might be
reluctant to relinquish management control to a strategic
bidder, one source said, perhaps giving private equity bidders
the upper hand.
Maisons du Monde has annual sales of about 500 million euros
and earnings before interest, debt, taxes and amortisation
(EBITDA) in the range of 75 to 80 million, one source said.
The official start to the search for buyers for Maisons du
Monde is the latest sign of a flurry of activity in France's
generally moribund private equity deals market.
Last week Reuters reported that large private equity firms
including KKR and Carlyle had submitted non-binding bids for
ready-to-wear brands Sandro and Maje.
French catering company Elior, controlled by private equity
firm Charterhouse Capital Partners, is also up for sale.