FRANKFURT Oct 11 Family-owned Swiss firm VAT
Vacuum Valves has attracted interest from industrial and
financial investors, who are willing to pay roughly 800 million
Swiss francs ($880 million) for the company, sources said.
Suitors including U.S.-based MKS Instruments and a
private equity consortium comprising Swiss investors Capvis and
Partners Group have made it to the third round of the auction,
three people familiar with the transaction said.
VAT's chairman Richard Fischer told Reuters on Friday that
he may be able to provide new information on the sale by
year-end, declining to give more details right now.
The family owners have a preference for selling the maker of
vacuum valves used in the semiconductor and flat screen
industry, as well as in the coating of glass and tools, to
either a rival or to Swiss investors, the sources said.
Many private equity investors starved of so-called 'primary
deals', which are attractive because they offer greater scope
for restructuring, and therefore, returns, had shown an interest
in VAT but lack a Swiss background, the source added.
Two thirds of European private equity activity this year has
involved one buyout house selling a company it owns to another -
recycling deals to scoop fees.
VAT, which was founded by Siegfried Schertler in 1964,
employs 900 staff and has annual sales of more than $300
million. It moved into the semiconductor market when Fischer
took over in 1984. It does not disclose any earnings figures.
MKS, Capvis and Partners Group declined to comment.
($1=0.9109 Swiss francs)
(Reporting by Arno Schuetze; Editing by Greg Mahlich)