EXCLUSIVE Bain Capital nears $2.27 bln deal to buy French IT services firm Inetum -sources

Logo of Bain Capital is screened at a news conference in Tokyo, Japan
Logo of Bain Capital is screened at a news conference in Tokyo, Japan September 28, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

LONDON, Jan 19 (Reuters) - U.S. buyout fund Bain Capital is in final talks to buy French IT services firm Inetum in a deal worth about $2.27 billion that would boost its presence across Europe's tech sector, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The deal will see Inetum - formerly known as Gfi Informatique - returning into private equity hands after being sold to Qatar's group Mannai Corp (MCCS.QA) in 2016, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Bain is putting the finishing touches to the transaction which could be signed as early as this week and would value the 52-year old French firm at roughly 2 billion euros ($2.27 billion), one of the sources said.

JPMorgan (JPM.N) is working with Mannai Corp on the sale while Credit Suisse (CSGN.S) is advising Bain, the sources said.

Mannai, which has also hired U.S. bank Lazard (LAZ.N), said on Wednesday that its board had approved a potential sale of its full stake in Inetum, without mentioning the buyer.

Bain was not immediately available to comment while JPMorgan and Credit Suisse declined to comment.

The move comes as Bain Capital is looking to build scale in Europe's fragmented IT services industry where the private equity firm bought Italy's Engineering Group in 2020.

Based on the outskirts of Paris, Inetum provides services spanning IT consultancy, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, blockchain and infrastructure in more than 26 countries.

In 2019 it bought Spanish firm Informática El Corte Ingles (IECISA) to create a European tech champion.

Inetum, led by Chief Executive Vincent Rouaix, had revenues of almost 2 billion euros in 2020 and was previously backed by investment firms Apax France, Altamir and Boussard & Gavaudan.

Bain, which owns British market data business Kantar and has been a prolific investor in Europe's payments industry, has valued Inetum at about 10 times its core earnings of roughly 200 million euros, one of the sources said.

The Boston-based private equity firm has held bilateral talks with owner Mannai Corp for several weeks ahead of a possible deal, the source said.

Private equity funds have deployed record amounts of dry powder during the pandemic and are keen to finalise pending deals as rising interest rates could make deal financing more expensive.

Buyout volumes rose to an all-time record of $1.3 trillion last year, accounting for 20% of overall M&A activity in 2021. read more

($1 = 0.8814 euros)

Reporting by Pamela Barbaglia, Editing by Louise Heavens and David Evans

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.