Exclusive: Chinese group bids 1 billion euros for Germany's KraussMaffei - sources

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - A Chinese group has made a bid worth roughly 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) to buy the private equity-owned German plastics processing machinery maker KraussMaffei, people familiar with the matter said.

The potential buyer is hoping to clinch a deal with KraussMaffei’s owner, Canada’s Onex Corp, before the Chinese New Year in early February, the people said on Thursday.

They added that the deal may still fall apart or that counterbids may surface that may appeal to Onex.

Onex declined to comment.

A successful deal would be another instance of Chinese companies acquiring Western technology and distribution networks following transactions like last year’s buyout of Italian tyre maker Pirelli by China National Chemical Corp (ChemChina).

Currently ChemChina is also in talks to buy Swiss agrichemicals group Syngenta.

Onex bought KraussMaffei from U.S. investor firm Madison Capital in 2012 in a 568 million-euro deal, prevailing against rival offers from several Asian companies.

At the time China-based groups ChemChina and Haitian had shown interest in the business alongside Japan’s Sumitomo and U.S. group Milacron.

The offer of the unnamed Chinese group values KraussMaffei at roughly seven times its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization, one of the sources said.

Onex had said in its third-quarter report published in November that KraussMaffei posted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization of 140 million euros for the last 12 months.

Listed peers trade at multiples of seven to eight times their expected core earnings.

KraussMaffei started as locomotive maker Eisenwerk Hirschau in Munich in 1839. In the 1930s it expanded into tank making, while the production of injection moulding machines gained importance after the war.

In 1989 conglomerate Mannesmann acquired Krauss-Maffei. But following Mannesmann’s takeover by Vodafone in 2000 Krauss-Maffei was broken up with Siemens taking over the locomotive business and the defense activities were merged with another firm to form Krauss Maffei Wegmann.

In 2002 private equity group KKR and Siemens took over the plastics processing machinery business, which Madison later bought and rebranded KraussMaffei AG.

Additional reporting by Denny Thomas in Hong Kong; Editing by Harro ten Wolde, Greg Mahlich