Car auctioneer BCA Marketplace in $2.4 billion buyout talks

(Reuters) - Car auction group BCA Marketplace is in talks with private equity firm TDR Capital on a 1.91 billion pounds ($2.43 billion) buyout offer, sending the WeBuyAnyCar owner’s shares up almost 25%.

TDR Capital’s offer comes nearly a year after the group rejected a takeover proposal from Apax Partners, which BCA said undervalued the company.

TDR is proposing an offer of 243 pence per share, representing a premium of 25% to BCA’s closing price on Wednesday.

BCA’s shares were up 21.3% at 236 pence at 1131 GMT, pushing them to the top of London’s midcap index.

BCA said if TDR were to make a firm offer, BCA’s board intends to recommend unanimously that shareholders accept it.

Under British takeover rules, TDR has until July 18 to either announce a firm intention to make an offer for BCA or walk away.

TDR currently manages over 8 billion euros of committed capital across three European mid-market buyout funds.

Last year, Apax Partners dropped its bid for BCA Marketplace after the company rejected two acquisition proposals. In June last year, BCA said it had rejected a preliminary 1.6 billion pound cash takeover offer from Apax.

The services BCA provides include vehicle collections and deliveries, inspection checks, customs management, storage, refurbishment, vehicle preparation, and financing.

Through WeBuyAnyCar, the company sold 219,000 cars in 2018 and has transported 2.2 million vehicles in 2018. BCA calls itself the number one used vehicle exchange company in Europe.

Separately, BCA said on Thursday its new fiscal year had started well despite economic and political challenges in Britain. BCA expects to post annual results in line with its expectations on June 26.

British new car registrations fell 4.1% year-on-year in April, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said, dragged down by weak demand from consumers. Registrations by private motorists fell by an annual 10.3%.

Woodford Investment Management, which has come under fire for suspending a flagship fund earlier this month, owns 7.15% of BCA and is the third largest shareholder in the company, according to Refinitiv Eikon data.

BCA is being advised by Jefferies International Limited on the deal.

Reporting by Sangameswaran S and additional writing by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr and Jane Merriman