Talks in progress for £8.5bn buyout

Private equity firm Apax is in exclusive talks to buy Danish cleaning company ISS for $8.5bn including debt, it was reported yesterday, flagging what could be Europe's largest buyout since the credit crisis.

The owners of ISS – Goldman Sachs and Swedish buyout firm EQT –have been considering an initial public offering (IPO) or a sale of the company, one of the world's largest facilities services firms which employs more than 500,000 people.

Apax entered exclusive talks after beating bids from rival private equity firms.

Reports in November said that Apax was preparing a bid for the business, as were a consortium of Blackstone, Bain Capital, Nordic Capital and Clayton Dubilier & Rice, and a team of CVC and Apollo.

"It's a rich price but ISS is a good business that gives off a lot of cashflow and Apax wants to put money to work," said a banker who has followed the process.

ISS operates in more than 50 countries, cleaning offices, cooking school meals and providing security for people and properties.

Its main peers are security services group G4S, French catering and services company Sodexo, catering services provider Compass Group and Swedish security services company Securitas. Apax and ISS declined to comment.

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