Bain-Advent consortium joins race to buy Italy’s ICBPI, say sources-Reuters

(Reuters) – A consortium comprising private equity firms Bain Capital and Advent International has entered the race to buy Italian bank services provider ICBPI, filing a bid just short of 2 billion euros ($2.27 billion), two sources close to the matter said.

Buyout group Permira has already presented a 2.2 billion euro unsolicited offer for Istituto Centrale Banche Popolari Italiane (ICBPI) which specialises in payment services, sources said last week.

The cooperative bank owners of ICBPI are expected to hire advisors in the coming days, the sources said, adding Mediobanca and Equita were seen as frontrunners.

Advent International declined to comment, while Bain Capital was not immediately available to comment on the matter.

ICBPI, which earns fees on payment, clearing and credit card services provided to cooperative banks, has annual gross profits before provisions of around 100 million euros, according to one source.

ICBPI’s shareholders plan to launch a formal auction process, senior bankers said, adding other private equity funds would likely be invited to take part.

Italian cooperative lenders decided to put the bank up for sale to raise fresh capital following last year’s review of Europe’s banks, one source told Reuters last week, adding the asset was booked at a very low value by most of its shareholders.

Credito Valtellinese is the biggest shareholder in ICBPI with a 20.4 percent stake, followed by Banco Popolare with 16 percent. Unlisted Banca Popolare di Vicenza and Veneto Banca both have stakes of around 10 percent each while Popolare Emilia Romagna owns 8.7 percent.