(Bloomberg) — The owners of Scandlines, 3i Group Plc and Allianz Capital Partners GmbH, received three bids for the Danish-German ferry operator in a deal that may value the company at as much as 1.4 billion euros ($1.8 billion), according to people with knowledge of the matter.
Buyout firms Star Capital Partners Ltd. and TPG Capital as well as Danish shipping company DFDS A/S have made offers, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. The deal, which will probably be agreed on before the summer, may fetch between 1 billion euros and 1.4 billion euros, according to the people.
The ferry operator is expanding and said this month that it will buy two new ferries for the route between Gedser, Denmark, and Rostock, Germany ahead of new competition from 2021, when Germany and Denmark plan to complete a rail tunnel beneath the Fehmarn Belt strait.
DFDS today confirmed its participation in the bidding and said in a statement that its interest “is aligned with the company’s strategy of expanding the route network through value- creating acquisitions.”
Following the statement, DFDS shares reversed earlier gains and dropped 2.5 percent in Copenhagen intraday trading. The stock was down 1.5 percent at 351 kroner as of 11:20 a.m., valuing the stock at 5.2 billion kroner ($915 million).
Scandferries Group, the holding company for Scandlines, increased earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization by 27 percent to 212 million euros last year. Sales stayed almost unchanged at 608 million euros after the company sold its Baltic freight routes. The company forecast that revenue and net income will grow as much as 5 percent this year and next.
3i and Allianz hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and ING Groep NV to advise and finance a potential sale on the ferry operator, which is based in Copenhagen and Rostock, people familiar with the matter said in October.
Representatives for 3i, Allianz Capital Partners, Scandlines, Goldman Sachs and ING declined to comment. Spokesman at Star Capital and TPG couldn’t be reached for comment.
3i, Britain’s oldest private-equity firm, and Allianz Capital Partners, the buyout unit of Germany’s largest insurer Allianz SE, each own 49 percent of Scandferries Group. The rest is owned by management.
The two private-equity investors, along with shipping company Deutsche Seereederei GmbH, agreed in 2007 to jointly acquire Scandlines from Germany’s national rail operator Deutsche Bahn AG and the Danish government for 1.56 billion euros. 3i and Allianz Capital Partners bought out Deutsche Seereederei’s stake in 2010.
– Aaron Kirchfeld and Sheenagh Matthews, Copyright 2013 Bloomberg.