March 6, 2019 / 1:48 PM / 14 days ago

Advent swoops on Italian credit data provider Cerved

LONDON (Reuters) - Buyout fund Advent has made a bid approach for Cerved ahead of a possible take-private deal for the credit data provider, which has a long history of private equity ownership, Cerved said on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: Duomo's cathedral and Porta Nuova's financial district are seen in Milan, Italy, May 16, 2018. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini/File Photo

Advent sent a non-binding letter to Cerved’s board on Feb. 13 in relation to a possible transaction and was granted limited access to the company’s books on Feb. 19.

Cerved said it did not disclose any privileged information to Advent and only consented to limited due diligence.

Any bid could value the Milan-based business at about 1.8 billion euros (1.6 billion pounds), a source familiar with the matter said.

The timing of any deal is fluid, the source said, adding the Italian regulator would need to review any offer before the company’s board could make a recommendation.

Cerved - led by Chief Executive Gianandrea De Bernardis -said the due diligence was closed on Wednesday and the board would examine any bid when its terms and conditions were made public.

Cerved’s shares were up about 15 percent by 1614 GMT.

They had been suspended earlier on Wednesday due to excessive volatility.

Advent’s bid approach for Cerved, which has a market value of 1.6 billion euros, was first reported by the Financial Times.

Cerved has been on the radar screen of private equity investors since 2008 when Bain and Clessidra first invested in the company.

The duo sold it to CVC for about 1.13 billion euros in 2013 but CVC’s ownership lasted for just over a year as the European buyout fund took advantage of favourable market conditions to list the business in 2014.

If successful, Advent’s swoop would be this year’s second multi-billion acquisition for the buyout fund, which agreed to buy the acrylic sheets unit of Germany’s Evonik for about 3 billion euros on March 4.

Advent is increasingly focussing on publicly listed companies that it deems undervalued.

Last year, it bought British electronics and technology firm Laird for about 1.2 billion pounds and subsequently de-listed it from the London Stock Exchange.

Reporting by Pamela Barbaglia, editing by Silvia Aloisi/Louise Heavens/Jane Merriman

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