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(Reuters) - Japanese information technology company NEC Corp (6701.T) is looking at buying British software firm Civica for 900 million pounds ($1.2 billion) and has hired advisors to work on an offer, Sky News reported.
An auction for Civica, one of the UK's biggest public sector software providers, began several weeks ago and has drawn initial offers from three private equity firms - London-based BC Partners, Berkshire Partners and the Swiss-based Partners Group (PGHN.S), Sky News said, citing an industry source.
A spokesman for NEC said the company is "always considering a wide range of business possibilities, but that nothing has been decided at this time."
Representatives for Civica were not immediately available for comment outside regular business hours.
OMERS Private Equity acquired Civica from 3i in 2013 for 390 million pounds, according to Thomson Reuters LPC data.
Civica provides outsourcing services to government organizations and local authorities around the world, from running most of the UK police force's automatic number plate recognition system to Singapore's public library management system.
NEC provides a broad range of systems and software services for both the public and private sector. Recent contracts include the provision of its facial recognition system to the UK's South Wales Police force and one to integrate internal systems for the city of Lisbon.
The Japanese firm sold most of its stake in its PC joint venture with Lenovo Group (0992.HK) last year, a part of a broader trend of Japanese companies shedding struggling hardware businesses.
NEC shares were flat in morning trade in Tokyo, compared with a 0.1 percent rise in the benchmark Nikkei share price index .N225.
Reporting by Mekhla Raina in Bengaluru and Sam Nussey in Tokyo; Editing by Edmund Blair and Edwina Gibbs