FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Bertelsmann’s call center unit Arvato, going on the block before the summer break as the German media group seeks to free up capital to invest, is attracting interest from peers, mostly backed by private equity, sources close to the matter said.
Bertelsmann (BTGGg.F), the owner of European broadcaster RTL (RRTL.DE) and U.S. publisher Penguin Random House said in January it would seek a partner or buyer for Arvato CRM, which employs 36,000 staff and generated revenues of 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) last year.
Two sources familiar with the matter said Goldman Sachs (GS.N) was handling the auction, which had attracted interest from:
- Webhelp, a business process outsourcing (BPO) company headquartered in Paris that is backed by investor KKR.
- Comdata, an Italian-based firm controlled by Carlyle Group.
- Atento, a New York-listed business, 66 percent owned by Bain Capital, which describes itself as the market leader in Latin America.
- Konecta, a Spain-based BPO and call-centre provider in which PAI Partners and Banco Santander (SAN.MC) are major shareholders. Its own sale process has stalled, according to people close to the matter.
- TTEC, a NASDAQ-listed business, formerly called TeleTech, which has made recent acquisitions in Canada and India.
Bertelsmann was tight-lipped on the process but CEO Thomas Rabe has said the companies would approach potential investors in May and hoped to achieve a result in the autumn.
A source close to the company said there was interest from potential buyers either seeking to consolidate operations or diversify from abroad into Europe, but declined to elaborate.
Arvato CRM - the acronym stands for Customer Relationship Management - provides services such as live chat, video identification procedures and content moderation for Facebook (FB.O).
It expects to benefit as Facebook steps up efforts to remove fake news and hate speech from its platform, but the business requires heavy investment to keep pace with technology.
Sources said the asset being offered for sale was being tentatively valued at an enterprise value - combined equity and debt - of 600-700 million euros ($738-$862 million). Other suitors could yet enter the fray, they added.
Goldman and Comdata declined to comment, while the other four prospective bidders did not immediately respond to emailed requests for comment.
Additional reporting by Douglas Busvine and Andres Gonzalez; Writing by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Mark Potter