* Schlumberger seeking buyer for GCS unit -sources
* JPMorgan said to help find trade, private equity bidders
* GCS EBITDA tops $50 mln a year -source
By Quentin Webb
LONDON, April 21 (Reuters) - Schlumberger (SLB.N) is seeking to sell a unit providing satellite dishes and other specialised communications equipment for oil rigs, tankers, and other hard-to-reach locations, people familiar with the matter said.
The world’s largest oilfield services company has hired investment bank JPMorgan to help run the sale of the unit, known as Schlumberger Global Connectivity Services (GCS), the people said. It could interest both trade buyers and private equity firms.
The unit has strong growth and annual earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of more than $50 million, one of the people said, implying a price tag of several hundred million dollars.
Shares in Inmarsat ISA.L, the larger London-listed provider of satellites for ships, aircraft and remote locations worldwide, give it an enterprise value of about 10.2 times forecast 2010 EBITDA, according to Reuters Estimates.
GCS’s products include small satellite dishes known as Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSATs). These can be fitted to vessels and rigs in hostile environments like the Gulf of Mexico or the North Sea, allowing them to transmit voice, video and data messages to offices on land.
In 2008 Israel’s Gilat Satellite Networks (GILT.O), a major maker of VSATs, scrapped a $475 million deal to sell itself to a consortium including Los Angeles private equity firm Gores Group LLC.
A Paris-based spokesman for Schlumberger declined to comment. (additional reporting by Braden Reddall in San Francisco; Editing by Hans Peters)