Bloomberg News

Axa PE Said to Near Purchase of Charterhouse’s Fives

July 03, 2012

Charterhouse Capital Partners LLP, a British buyout firm, is nearing an agreement to sell Fives to Axa Private Equity and the management of the French engineering company, four people with knowledge of the matter said.

Axa Private Equity, the Paris-based buyout firm owned by French insurer Axa SA (CS), and Fives’s management are close to completing a joint offer in a deal that may value the company at about 1 billion euros ($1.26 billion), said the people, who asked not to be identified because an agreement isn’t signed.

Charterhouse, which manages a 4 billion-euro fund, bought into the company formerly known as Fives-Lille, for 450 million euros in 2006, according to the firm’s website.

Separately, the London-based firm agreed today to sell a majority stake in energy consultant Wood Mackenzie to buyout firm Hellman & Friedman LLC of San Francisco in a deal that values the consultancy at 1.1 billion pounds ($1.7 billion). Charterhouse took control of Wood Mackenzie three years ago in a deal that valued the research firm at 553 million pounds. Charterhouse will keep a 13 percent stake in Wood Mackenzie.

Nomura Holdings Inc. (8604) has underwritten the financing for Hellman & Friedman’s buyout, according to two people with knowledge of the matter. Sankaty Advisors LLC, a unit of Bain Capital LLC, is one of the providers of mezzanine debt for the transaction, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the deal is private.

Competition for Fives

Axa Private Equity has competed against PAI Partners, Cinven Ltd. and BC Partners Ltd. for Fives, in a process largely handled by Fives’s own management, which will probably end up with a controlling stake, the people said. Axa Private Equity may provide part of the debt financing used to fund the acquisition through one of its so-called mezzanine funds, two of the people said.

Representatives of Axa Private Equity and Charterhouse declined to comment on the process. A spokeswoman for Fives couldn’t immediately comment.

Fives had earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of 99 million euros last year, up 15 percent from the previous year, according to the company’s website.

To contact the reporters on this story: Anne-Sylvaine Chassany in London at achassany@bloomberg.net; Jacqueline Simmons in Paris at jackiem@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Frank Connelly at fconnelly@bloomberg.net; Jacqueline Simmons at jackiem@bloomberg.net


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