Exclusive: EQT readies sale of German energy services firm Getec - sources

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Buyout firm EQT EQTAB.ST is readying a sale of German energy services firm Getec as it seeks to benefit from high valuations for energy infrastructure assets, people familiar with the matter said.

EQT, which bought a 60% stake in Getec in 2016, is expected to hire advisors in the first quarter of 2021 and to start an auction targeted at utilities and infrastructure investors shortly thereafter, they said, adding a deal could be worth several billion euros.

EQT declined to comment.

Madgeburg-based Getec is a producer of decentralized energy, supplying heat and electricity to industrial and real estate clients such as shopping malls.

Cash-rich investors seeking stable returns have turned to infrastructure assets this year as the sector has proven resilient during the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite the low prices, oil-related infrastructure deals have also been high in demand as seen in Abu Dhabi National Oil Company’s pipeline deal in June.

Getec has annual earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of 150 million-200 million euros ($179 million-$238 million), the sources said.

French peer Idex was sold to infrastructure fund Antin at a valuation of more than 15 times its core earnings in 2018.

Currently, Scandinavian peers Nevel and Adven are up for sale and are expected to fetch valuations of 15-20 times their respective EBITDA, the sources said.

If valued in line with these deals, Getec could fetch a price of 3-4 billion euros.

Nevel and Adven were not immediately available for comment.

Getec was founded by entrepreneur Karl Gerhold in 1993, who continues to hold shares. With the help of funds supplied by EQT, the company has done a series of deals, including the acquisitions of Apleona Efficiency, BBE, EEG and Engie ENGIE.PA unit EEL.

($1 = 0.8405 euros)

Reporting by Arno Schuetze; Editing by Edward Taylor and Susan Fenton