Partners, Capvis prep $1.5 bln VAT Vakuumventile exit, say sources: Reuters

The private equity owners of VAT Vakuumventile are working with bankers on a potential 1.5 billion Swiss franc ($1.5 billion) exit of the Swiss vacuum valve maker, four sources familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

Capvis and Partners Group, which acquired VAT barely two years ago, have taken on UBS and Credit Suisse to work as global co-ordinators on a Zurich stock market listing, the sources said.
JPMorgan is bookrunner on the deal which could come as soon as the beginning of the second quarter, the sources said, cautioning that no deal was certain.

Capvis, Partners Group, UBS and JP Morgan declined to comment. Credit Suisse was not available for immediate comment.

VAT manufactures vacuum valves used in products such as flat panel displays and semiconductors. Its family owners sold it in December 2013 in an auction that drew interest from a number of private equity investors as well as U.S.-based MKS Instruments.

Separately, Swiss firm OC Oerlikon sold its Leybold-branded vacuum pumps business in November 2015 to Swedish mining equipment maker Atlas Copco for 486 million euros, fetching almost 12 times core earnings.

VAT had 12-month core earnings of 120-130 million Swiss francs, one of the sources said. A similar multiple to the OC Oerlikon deal would therefore value the business at 1.44-1.56 billion francs.

Buyout firms usually hold their portfolio companies for four to six years but in recent months some investors have been preparing sales sooner to take advantage of a strong sellers’ market.
Reuters reported in November that U.S. firm Centerbridge was exploring a listing of Senvion less than a year after acquiring the German wind turbine company.

Private equity-backed buyouts totalled $302.7 billion last year, up 16.7 percent, Thomson Reuters data showed, although the number of deals fell by seven.

The Swiss market had just two flotations in 2015 — Cosmo Pharmaceuticals’ subsidiary Cassiopea and telecoms firm Sunrise.

Credit Suisse said in December that it expected four or five Swiss IPOs in 2016.

VAT was founded in 1964 and is based in Haag in the canton of St. Gallen and employs more than 1,100 people, according to its website.