Apax Buying Marken for $1.6 Billion

LONDON (Reuters) – Private equity firm Apax Partners will buy a majority stake in Marken, a privately held British medical courier company, trumping rival bidder Hellman & Friedman, people familiar with the process said.

The deal will give Marken an enterprise value of 975 million pounds ($1.6 billion), some of the people said.

However, it was not clear exactly how big a stake Apax would take or how much debt Marken has outstanding. A 250 million pound loan backed its last buyout in 2007 from 3i Group (III.L), according to Reuters LPC data.

Apax is buying the stake in Marken, which ships vaccines and blood for testing from clinical trials around the world, from management and from minority stakeholder Intermediate Capital Group (ICP.L), the people said.

Marken’s management, based in London, will retain a minority stake in the business, after a deal agreed on Sunday night, one of the people said.

San Francisco-based Hellman & Friedman’s offer valued the business at 800 million pounds, a second source said.

Apax, Hellman & Friedman and ICG declined to comment, while Marken did not return requests for comment.

Apax spent seven or eight weeks analysing Marken and its market, with minimal contact with company management, before tabling its bid. The buyout firm will fund the acquisition with its own money initially and look to leverage its position, putting debt into the deal later on, one of the people said.

Marken does not provide financial information on its website but 2008 annual reports filed at Companies House show Marken Ltd made operating profit of 25.2 million pounds on turnover up 35 percent at 69.0 million pounds. (Reporting by Simon Meads; additional reporting by Zaida Espana and Alasdair Reilly; editing by Rupert Winchester) ($1 = 0.6080 pound)