EQT, GIC Agree To Buy Springer Science

LONDON/STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Swedish private equity firm EQT and the Singapore government are buying Springer Science and Business Media, allowing an exit for the two UK buyout firms that have owned the debt-laden business since 2003.

EQT, closely linked with Sweden’s powerful Wallenberg family and its Investor (INVEb.ST) group, said on Friday it would buy 82 percent of the world’s second-largest scientific, technical and medical publisher.

Reuters reported on Wednesday that EQT would scoop up Springer after a long auction.

GIC Special Investments, which is the private equity arm of the Singapore government’s investment management company, will buy the remaining 18 percent.

Financial terms were not announced. The deal will value Springer’s equity at around 100 million to 150 million euros ($147 million-$221 million), two sources told Reuters this week, giving the business an enterprise value of less than 2.4 billion euros.

Private equity firms Candover and Cinven created Springer through the 600 million euro acquisition of Kluwer Academic Publishers from Wolters Kluwer (WLSNc.AS) and the 1 billion euro acquisition of BertelsmannSpringer from Bertelsmann [BERT.UL] six years ago.

The two firms took advantage of hot debt markets to refinance the business and pay themselves handsome dividends on three occasions.

EQT has lined up a 1 billion pound underwritten loan, demonstrating returning risk appetite at banks that will support the re-opening of the leveraged buyout market.

The value of Springer’s loans has soared to near par this week as investors relish the prospect of repayments.

The company’s euro term loan A tranche was the strongest performer, up 5.3 percent to 98.5 percent of face value from 93.5 percent last week. The second lien tranche jumped 7.7 percent to 97 percent of face value from 90 percent the week before.

Springer publishes print and electronic books, technical and medical journals and hosts scientific databases. Its titles include the Journal of Supercomputing and the Encyclopaedia of Mathematics and the company is particularly strong in Germany. (Additional reporting by Zaida Espana and Georgina Prodhan in London; editing by Karen Foster)