Ratos Selling Bisnode

LONDON/STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Ratos AB (RATOb.ST), the Swedish private equity firm, is seeking to sell Bisnode, the business information firm that operates Dun & Bradstreet (DNB.N) branded credit-checking businesses in 10 European companies.

People familiar with the matter said Ratos, backed by the Soderberg family, has hired JPMorgan to manage a sale of Stockholm-based Bisnode.

Bisnode, a provider of marketing databases, credit reports and business data, could attract both private equity firms and trade rivals. The company is 70 percent owned by Ratos and 30 percent by Sweden’s family owned Bonnier Group.

Bisnode, Bonnier and Ratos declined to comment.

The group’s credit-checking business competes with firms including Equifax Inc (EFX.N), Experian Plc (EXPN.L) and Natixis SA (CNAT.PA) unit Coface, while its business-data arm vies with BC Partners’s [BCPRT.UL] Bureau Van Dijk and Reed Elsevier Plc / NV’s (REL.L) (ELSN.AS) LexisNexis.

The sale comes three years after Ratos, the company’s majority owner since 2005, dropped plans for a stock-market listing. Ratos pulled the planned flotation in October 2007, blaming market volatility for a lack of investor interest.

Bisnode made earnings before interest, tax and amortisation (EBITA) of 593 million Swedish kroner ($79.9 million) last year, on revenue of 4.741 billion Swedish kroner.

In May Bisnode said “a still challenging market situation” had led to weak first-quarter revenue growth. But is said good cost control had helped it deliver continued healthy profitability, strong cash flow, and a higher operating margin. ($1=7.424 Swedish Crown)

By Quentin Webb and Sven Nordenstam
(Additional reporting by Simon Meads; Editing by Douwe Miedema and Erica Billingham)