Apax in Exclusive Talks for Danish Company ISS

Beating out bids from rival buyout shops, Apax Partners is now in exclusive talks to buy Danish cleaning company ISS, Reuters reported. ISS is currently owned by Goldman Sachs and Swedish private equity firm EQT. The deal, valued at about $8.5 billion, could become Europe’s largest buyout since the credit crisis, Reuters said. ISS is one of the world’s largest facilities services companies, with more than 500,000 employees.

(Reuters) – Private equity firm Apax is in exclusive talks to buy Danish cleaning giant ISS for $8.5 billion, a person familiar with the situation said, in what could be Europe’s largest buyout since the credit crisis.

The owners of ISS [ISSHG.UL] — Goldman Sachs and Swedish buyout firm EQT — have been considering an initial public offering (IPO) or a sale of the company, one of the world’s largest facilities services firms, employing more than 500,000 people.

Apax beat bids from rival private equity firms to enter exclusive talks, the Telegraph reported on Wednesday.

Reuters earlier reported that Apax was preparing a bid for the business, as were a consortium of Blackstone, Bain Capital, Nordic Capital and Clayton Dubilier & Rice, and a team of CVC [CVC.UL] and Apollo [APOLO.UL].

Apax is talking to sovereign wealth funds and large pension funds that invest in its 11.2 billion euro ($14.8 billion) buyout fund about investing directly in ISS, the person familiar with the matter told Reuters on Wednesday.

Apax’s maximum equity investment in deals is around 600 million euros, leaving it over $2.5 billion to find from co-investors. That would leave about $5 billion to be funded through debt. The group has a couple of months to round up the investment, the person said.

ISS’s main peers are UK security services group G4S, French catering and services company Sodexho SA , UK catering services provider Compass Group and Swedish security services company Securitas AB .

Apax declined to comment. EQT and Goldman Sachs were not immediately available for comment. (Reporting by Simon Meads and Victoria Howley; Editing by Will Waterman) ($1=.7566 Euro)