Rothschild's buyout fund tests appetite for $1.5bn software firm A2Mac1

LONDON, Aug 17 (Reuters) - Rothschild's private equity arm is sounding out prospective bidders to launch the sale of a majority stake in French automotive software firm A2Mac1, a deal valued at up to $1.5 billion, four sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Five Arrows Principal Investments (FAPI) - which is owned by Rothschild and manages 2.8 billion euros ($2.85 billion) of capital focused on mid-market investments in Western Europe - is holding preliminary talks with a series of private equity firms ahead of an auction process in September, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Jefferies (JEF.N) is running the sale on behalf of FAPI, which wants to retain a significant minority stake in the business, two of the sources said.

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Rothschild and Jefferies declined to comment. FAPI was not immediately available for comment.

A2Mac1 provides vehicle data and analysis tools to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) while also specialising in benchmarking solutions for the car industry.

FAPI bought A2Mac1 in 2017 for more than 200 million euros.

The business is valued at between $1 billion and $1.5 billion, representing a multiple of more than 20 times the company's core earnings of 50 million euros, the sources said.

French investment firms Astorg and Eurazeo are among local investors weighing bids for the company, two of the sources said.

European private equity fund Hg, which opened an office in France earlier this year, is keen to win a deal in the country and is closely looking at a possible offer for A2Mac1, two other sources said.

U.S. buyout fund KKR and European rival Permira are also likely to get involved given the recession-proof appeal of the technology industry, the same sources added.

Permira, Hg, Eurazeo and KKR declined to comment while Astorg was not immediately available for comment.

($1 = 0.9835 euros)

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Reporting by Emma-Victoria Farr, additional reporting by Julien Ponthus, editing by Pamela Barbaglia and Barbara Lewis

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Reports on European M&A with previous experience at Mergermarket, Bloomberg The Daily Telegraph and Deutsche Presse Agentur.