J.C. Flowers’ sale of Ascensus hits second round

J.C. Flowers & Co.’s sale of Ascensus has hit the second round and bids are due later this month, people with knowledge of the deal said.

The Ascensus auction has been dominated by larger private equity firms, the people said. It’s unclear exactly who is bidding but an IPO for Ascensus is unlikely now, the people said.

J.C. Flowers & Co. put Ascensus up for sale earlier this summer, seeking bids of $1 billion. Deutsche Bank is advising on the process. Flowers had been considering a dual track—both an IPO and a sale— for Ascensus. However, Ascensus is receiving a high enough premium from potential buyers that an IPO is unlikely now, one of the people said.

“They’re running a fast process,” one of the people, a PE executive, said.

Flowers did not target strategics for its auction of Ascensus, Buyouts reported. Most likely bidders include larger sponsors such as Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co, Blackstone Group, Carlyle Group, GTCRAdvent International, Genstar Capital and TPG Capital, sources have said.

Dresher, Pennsylvania-based Ascensus is a retirement plan provider. The company produces $80 million EBITDA.

J.C. Flowers’s ownership of Ascensus dates back to 2007 when the company was known as Bisys. In 2007, Citi acquired Bisys, a financial services outsourcing firm, for $1.45 billion in cash. As part of the deal, Citi agreed to sell the insurance and retirement services divisions to J.C. Flowers in a move that reduced the transaction price to $800 million. The Bisys Retirement unit operated as a unit of Crump Group, which was a J.C. Flowers portfolio company. In late 2007, Bisys Retirement Services changed its name to Ascensus, which means “moving upward” in Latin.

J.C. Flowers & Co has also gotten most of its money back from Ascensus, a source said in a prior interview. In January, Ascensus paid out a $100 million dividend to its owners.

Executives for Deutsche Bank declined comment. J.C. Flowers and Ascensus could not be reached for comment.

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