Reuters – Hilding Anders Bids Due

First-round bids for Swedish bedmaker Hilding Anders and binding bids for cinema chain SF are due this week, deal advisers said, a sign buyout activity in the Nordic region is picking up pace after a sluggish end to last year, Reuters reported. Hilding Anders, controlled by private equity firm Arle Capital Partners, is seen fetching at least 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion), several advisers said, while the SF cinemas, owned by Swedish publisher Bonnier, could command a price of roughly 200 million to 250 million euros.

(Reuters) – First-round bids for Swedish bedmaker Hilding Anders and binding bids for cinema chain SF are due this week, deal advisers said, a sign buyout activity in the Nordic region is picking up pace after a sluggish end to last year.

A stronger economic outlook is seen underpinning higher valuations for sellers, as well as dispelling some of the uncertainty that sidelined buyers during the second half of last year, leaving a large number of potential deals in the pipeline.

Hilding Anders, controlled by private equity firm Arle Capital Partners, is seen fetching at least 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion), several advisers said, while the SF cinemas, owned by Swedish publisher Bonnier, could command a price of roughly 200 million to 250 million euros.

First-round bids were also received last week for Danish food services company Eurocater, owned by Altor, in a deal that could be worth more than 500 million euros and where JP Morgan is running the sales process, the advisers said.

“There’s a whole lot that has gone live all of a sudden and it is looking promising,” one senior mergers and acquisitions (M&A) adviser said, referring to planned sales of Nordic companies.

Deutsche Bank is handling the sale of Hilding Anders, which has about 6,900 employees, the sources said. Nordea is advising on the sale of SF cinemas.

The sources interviewed for the story declined to be identified, either because they were close to deals and not authorised to speak publicly, or because they might aim to advise potential buyers at later stages.

Bonnier declined to comment, as did the buyout firms and the banks linked to the deals.

The pick-up in buyout activity in the Nordic region, where Sweden is a hub for the private equity industry, comes after 2012 ended with a dearth of major deals and the abandoned sale of Synsam, a Swedish optician chain.

“In particular after the Synsam debacle I think it would be healthy to have a successful larger deal. Let’s say Hilding Anders ends in a successful way – that is something which could help get things moving,” a second senior M&A adviser said.

Nordic and global stock markets rose in the second half of 2012, defying macro-economic uncertainty and helping to push up sellers’ price expectations. Buyers, meanwhile, were reluctant to take on big bets at high valuations, lacking hard data to support an economic upturn.

“I believe those expectations of the sellers would be more appropriate now, when there is an optimism around the economic outlook, than six or nine months ago,” a third M&A adviser said.

In a further sign of thawing in the M&A industry, Sweden’s Nordic Capital was preparing a sale of electric wheelchair maker Permobil, worth 300 to 400 million euros, one adviser said.

Nordic has also had hired Goldman Sachs to sell Sweden’s Aditro, worth around 200 million euros, with the IT firm’s management set to hold presentations for potential buyers this week, the source added.

($1 = 0.7684 euros) (Editing by Mark Potter)