LONDON European private equity firm Charterhouse [CHCAP.UL] is preparing to sell UK skincare company Deb Group, several sources with knowledge of the talks said, in a deal that could be worth up to 650 million pounds ($845 million) including debt.
Charterhouse has hired Goldman Sachs (GS.N) to lead the sale process which will start in the last quarter of the year and could run into 2015, a person familiar with the situation said on Wednesday.
One source said the deal could be worth 650 million pounds, while four sources estimated the value at around 500 million.
Deb Group, short for 'debutante', manufactures dispensers, hand cleansers and skin conditioning creams and operates in 18 countries. It was established in 1941 when it began selling a formula to help preserve women's silk stockings.
The company could be of interest to a number of industry players including Minnesota-based Ecolab (ECL.N), thanks to strong prospects for its hand hygiene monitoring systems used in hospitals, two of the sources said.
Ecolab lost out to Charterhouse in the final round of bids when Deb Group was sold by its previous owner Barclays Private Equity in 2010, one of the sources said.
Deb Group, Charterhouse, Goldman Sachs and Ecolab declined to comment. Charterhouse bought Deb from Barclays for 325 million pounds as part of a management buyout. One of Europe's oldest private equity houses, Charterhouse has also been speaking to investors about raising a fund potentially worth up to 4 billion euros, two sources said. The current 4 billion euro fund, its ninth, closed in 2009.
Charterhouse has listed several companies this year, including UK retailer Card Factory (CARDC.L), holidays-to-insurance firm Saga (SAGAG.L), motoring company AA Group (AAAA.L) and French caterer Elior (ELIOR.PA). All are trading below their issue price.
($1 = 0.5917 British Pounds)
(Editing by Erica Billingham)