Cinven starts clock on German industrial ceramics group sale, say sources: Reuters

Buyout group Cinven is expecting bids worth as much as 2.4 billion euros ($2.9 billion) next month for German industrial ceramics group Ceramtec from Asian industry players and financial investors, people close to the matter said.

First-round bids are due by Sept. 12 for the maker of technical ceramics used in products ranging from artificial hips and circuit boards to bearings and faucets, the people said.

Japan’s Kyocera (6971.T) and South Korea’s LG Chem (051910.KS) are expected to take part in the auction, as are investors including BC Partners, CVC, Advent, CD&R, Bain, Partners and PSP, the sources said.

The bidders are expected to value the company at 2.2-2.4 billion euros or 11-12 times Ceramtec’s 2017 expected earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of about 200 million euros, they added.

Bankers are working on debt financing of up to around 1.5 billion euros or about 7.5 times Ceramtec’s EBITDA, they said. Such a high leverage level has left some banks unable to provide committed financing, restricted by regulations that have tried to cap highly leveraged deals at no more than six times.

Morgan Stanley (MS.N) and BAML (BAC.N), advisers to the seller, are providing staple financing that will be available to any potential buyer, giving certainty of funds for financing an acquisition, the sources said.

“Available debt levels, the speed at which buyout groups can act and the question of what strategic bidders would do with the highly regulated medical ceramics ops may give private equity investors an edge in this auction,” one of the people said.

Cinven declined to comment and the potential bidders declined to comment or were not immediately available for comment.

Ceramtec traces its roots to porcelain manufacturer Thomaswerke, founded in 1903, which from the 1920s onwards supplied AEG with technical ceramics.

It was acquired in 1985 by chemical group Hoechst, now part of Sanofi (SASY.PA), which renamed the group Hoechst CeramTec. After further ownership changes, KKR-owned Rockwood acquired the group in 2004.

Cinven bought CeramTec for 1.5 billion euros in 2013 and unsuccessfully tried to list the company in 2015. It has strengthened the group with the acquisitions of U.S.-based peer DAI Ceramics in May 2016 and a British electro-ceramics business from Morgan Advanced Materials this year.