Isthimar Puts Inchscape Shipping On The Block

LONDON/DUBAI (Reuters) – Dubai World’s investment arm Istithmar aims to sell port and shipping agent Inchcape Shipping Services (ISS) for up to $700 million, and has drawn interest from private equity, people familiar with the matter said.

Istithmar is likely to appoint Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Royal Bank of Scotland to manage the sale, after meeting with a group of banks, the people said, although some cautioned that the duo had not yet received formal mandates.

Advent International, Cinven [CINV.UL], Montagu Private Equity, and TPG Capital [TPG.UL] are among the buyout firms working on bids, the people said.

The Financial Times reported that Charterhouse Capital Partners [CHCAP.UL] and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co [KKR.UL] were also working on potential bids for London-based Inchcape, which is one of the world’s biggest marine management firms with some 200 offices globally.

The sale is at an early stage but some bidders have already held informal discussions with ISS management, one of the people familiar with the matter said, adding that a $700 million price tag would represent about 10 times ISS’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA).

ISS, BoAML and RBS declined to comment. The private equity firms either declined to comment or were not immediately available for comment.

Dubai World [DBWLD.UL] is seeking to offload assets as part of a restructuring plan. The state-owned conglomerate rocked global markets last November when it asked for a delay on paying $26 billion in debt linked to its main property units.

Istithmar bought Inchcape for $285 million in 2006 from London-based private equity fund Electra Investment Trust.

(Reporting by Quentin Webb, Simon Meads and Susan Fenton in London and Nicolas Parasie in Dubai; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz and Elaine Hardcastle)