Blackstone Cancels Vitalia Sale

LONDON (Reuters) – US investment fund Blackstone (BX.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) has cancelled the sale of France's second largest private clinics operator Vitalia after bids failed to meet price expectations, Vitalia confirmed on Monday, in further evidence of tough conditions in the European leveraged buyout market.

Blackstone ceased discussions with potential suitors including private equity firm CVC Capital Partners CVC.UL and French holding Batipart after the offers failed to meet a price tag in the 1.2-1.4 billion euro region, a Vitalia spokesperson said.

Blackstone could not be reached for comment.

The withdrawal of the sale is another example of the difficulties that private equity firms are having in exiting their investments in the current climate.

The reduced availability of debt is capping the price that trade buyers are willing to pay for the businesses, and is also limiting the ability of other private equity firms to buy the companies in secondary or tertiary buyouts.

Earlier this month, the sale of a stake in Italian fashion house Roberto Cavalli was pulled on worries about a slowdown in luxury goods spending and funding difficulties.

No details about the offers discussed were disclosed by Vitalia.

As previously reported, Vitalia operates 46 clinics and generates revenue of around 650 million euros, and was put on the block by Blackstone in April this year.

By Zaida Espana

(Reporting by Zaida Espana)