November 3, 2011 / 10:46 PM / in 7 years

Smart meter firm Sensus explores sale -sources

* Privately held Sensus hires Credit Suisse to review sale

* Firm has $100 mln EBITDA, may fetch 8-10 times -sources

* Strategic, private equity interest expected -sources

By Soyoung Kim and Michael Erman

NEW YORK, Nov 3 (Reuters) - U.S. smart metering company Sensus is exploring a potential sale of the company and has hired bankers to advise on a deal that could potentially bring up to $1 billion, people familiar with the matter said.

Privately held Sensus, which makes smart meters, software and communication systems for the electric, gas, and water industries, is preparing to launch a sale and is being advised by Credit Suisse on the process, these people said.

Advanced or smart meters are used for measuring power, water and other energy uses. That data is sent back to utilities to help them increase their efficiency.

The Raleigh, North Carolina-based company has about $100 million in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), these people said. It could be valued at about 8 to 10 times EBITDA in a potential deal, two of the people said.

The company is expected to draw interest from trade buyers looking to expand in the smart grid market as well as private equity firms that would grow the business and eventually take it public, according to these people.

Representatives for Sensus and Credit Suisse declined to comment.

In May, Japanese electronics manufacturer Toshiba Corp struck a $2.3 billion deal to buy Swiss-based meter maker Landis+Gyr in a bid to move into the smart grid market, beating out several strategic and private equity bidders. Credit Suisse advised Landis+Gyr on the sale along with Lazard Ltd .

Smart meter makers such as Sensus and Landis+Gyr have seen strong growth as countries around the globe tighten regulations on energy to boost efficiency and use of renewable sources to cope with increasing demand and rising costs for energy and water.

Sensus has about 3,600 employees and had $865 million in sales last year.

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