May 1, 2017 / 10:49 PM / 5 months ago

Apollo Global seeks to lower West Corp price tag - sources

(Reuters) - Buyout firm Apollo Global Management LLC (APO.N) is seeking to convince U.S. telephone conferencing services provider West Corp (WSTC.O) to lower its price expectations and accept a $2 billion acquisition offer, according to people familiar with the matter.

Apollo has prevailed in an auction for West Corp and is in advanced negotiations to acquire the company, Reuters reported on Thursday. Since then, West Corp shares have risen 5.6 percent, ending trading on Monday at $26.71.

However, Apollo’s latest offer values West Corp at least a couple of dollars per share below that level, the sources said on Monday. Negotiations between the two sides are continuing, as West Corp hopes to conclude these talks by May 9, when it is scheduled to report first-quarter earnings, the sources added.

The sources asked not to be identified because the negotiations are confidential. Apollo declined to comment, while West Corp did not respond to a request for comment.

West Corp announced last November that it had hired investment bank Centerview Partners LLC and law firm Sidley Austin LLP to help the company explore financial and strategic alternatives. Since then, its shares have risen by a third. It now has a market capitalization of close to $3 billion.

However, the company is continuing to grapple with a debt pile of more than $3 billion, and has struggled to keep its conferencing technology competitive amid fierce price competition from its peers.

Based in Omaha, Nebraska, West Corp offers technology that allows companies and public safety organizations to launch teleconferencing sessions and manage customer service calls.

Private equity firms Thomas H. Lee Partners LP and Quadrangle Group LLC owned 21.5 percent and 4.5 percent of West Corp, respectively, as of March 23, according to a regulatory filing. This is the legacy of their taking the company private in 2006 for $4.1 billion, including debt. They then took West Corp public four years ago and sold down much of their stakes.

Thomas H. Lee declined to comment, while Quadrangle Group did not respond to a request for comment.

Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Editing by Andrew Hay

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