Charterhouse dials up Deutsche to sell French call center stake, say sources: Reuters

UK private equity firm Charterhouse has mandated Deutsche Bank for a sale of its 60 percent stake in French call center business Webhelp, four people familiar with the matter said.

The company, which specializes in outsourced customer relationship management, is expected to be valued at around 1 billion euros, the sources said on Thursday. It has core earnings (EBITDA) of between 80-90 million euros and could fetch a valuation multiple of over 10 times, a source added.

Its main French competitor Teleperformance has a market capitalization of 3.5 billion euros and trades at a 9.21 times EBITDA multiple.
A high valuation would bode well for the buyout firm as it attempts to raise 3 billion euros for its 10th fund. Charterhouse bought Webhelp in 2011 in a deal that gave the company an enterprise value of 350 million euros.

It is expected that only private equity firms will bid for the asset, as the company’s founders and management do not plan to sell their 40 percent stake.

Auctions are thought to be the preferred exit strategy for private equity funds in the short term as market volatility sparked by concerns over a slowdown in China could make listings more difficult. The VIX index, Wall Street’s so called “fear gauge”, hit 24.02 at 1444 GMT, down 7.9 percent on the day. Launching initial public offerings when the index is above 23 is considered risky by ECM bankers.

Webhelp is Europe’s third largest call center provider but is quickly expanding throughout the region. It has said it hopes to become the regional leader, ahead of competitors Teleperformance and Arvato in the next five years.

Founded in 2000, Webhelp posted revenue of 528.6 million euros last year and is hoping to increase that figure to 650 million in 2015.
Deutsche Bank, Charterhouse and Webhelp declined to comment.

Charterhouse sold Environmental Resources Management to Canadian pension fund Omers earlier this year and is the process of exiting healthcare company Tunstall, Reuters reported in June. This follows a choppy 2014 when the buyout firm was forced to exit two investments, Vivarte and PHS, following debt restructurings