FRANKFURT A direct sale of German publisher Springer Science+Business Media to BC Partners is still an option, even after Springer's owners said last week their focus was on a stock exchange listing, two people familiar with the talks said on Monday.
Springer Science's owners, Swedish private equity firm EQT and the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation, have entered fresh and intense negotiations with BC Partners, after last week rejecting the private equity firm's 3.1 billion euro (US$4.1 billion) bid as too low, the two people said.
"They've gotten very close on the price," said one of the sources.
"An agreement is possible soon," said the other.
EQT declined to comment and BC Partners was not immediately available. Springer Science also declined to comment.
EQT and GIC had chosen a dual track approach, preparing both a direct sale and a flotation to obtain the best price.
Talks between the parties continued over the weekend even after Springer Science's owners said they would concentrate on a flotation, the sources said.
BC Partners had offered up to 3.15 billion euros for the company, but this was still short of the minimum 3.3 billion euro price that EQT and GIC were seeking, the sources said.
Springer Science competes with Anglo-Dutch publisher Reed Elsevier and Dutch company Wolters Kluwer.
Springer Science publishes 2,200 English-language journals and more than 8,000 new book titles every year.
British private equity investors Candover and Cinven created Springer Science in 2004 by merging Dutch group Kluwer Academic Publishers with German firm BertelsmannSpringer.
In December 2009, EQT and GIC bought 82 percent and 18 percent of the company, respectively, from Candover and Cinven. ($1 = 0.7492 euros)
(Additional reporting by Philipp Halstrick and Joern Poltz; Writing by Jonathan Gould; Editing by Toni Reinhold)