General Cable receives bids from European rivals Prysmian, Nexans and NKT: sources

LONDON (Reuters) - U.S. cable manufacturer General Cable Corp BGC.N has received tentative bids from European rivals Prysmian PRY.MI, Nexans NEXS.PA and NKT NKT.CO, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters, as part of its efforts to find a new owner.

The three European cable firms are vying with a handful of U.S. rivals, one of the sources said, adding first-round bids came in earlier this week.

Kentucky-based General Cable has a market value of almost $1 billion and specialises in aluminium, copper and fibre optic wire and cable products.

In July it hired JPMorgan to kick off a strategic review and identify a possible merger partner in a bid to boost growth and maximize shareholder value.

At least five companies have taken part in the sales process, the sources said, and the bidders are now waiting to find out if they have been admitted to the second stage of the auction.

General Cable shares in New York jumped more than 8 percent to $21.65 after Reuters broke news of the bids.

U.S. wire maker Southwire Co, which snapped up some assets from General Cable in past years, could be part of the bidding field, one of the sources said, adding however that it would face fierce competition from Milan-based Prysmian, the world’s largest cable maker.

Prysmian and Nexans declined to comment while General Cable, NKT and Southwire were not immediately available for comment.

Prysmian boss Valerio Battista said in July that the possible sale of General Cable could accelerate sector consolidation and the Italian firm was hoping to be part of the game while trying not to overpay.

Prysmian, whose revenues rose 2.8 percent to 7.57 billion euros in 2016, has long been working on an overseas acquisition as it wants to maintain supremacy over its arch-rival Nexans, the sources said, adding that North America is a strategic market for growth.

Prysmian and Nexans engaged in a bidding war back in 2010 as they both sought to take over Dutch firm Draka, a key target to create the world’s largest supplier of cables for anything from telecoms to lifts.

Prysmian, which eventually clinched control of Draka in a $1.15 billion euro deal, has been buying small and medium-sized companies in recent years in a bid to gain scale in a fragmented market.

Additional reporting by Francesca Landini and Massimo Gaia in Milan and Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen in Copenhagen; Editing by Susan Fenton