December 14, 2018 / 10:14 AM / 6 months ago

Hospital beds firm LINET may agree stake sale in first half of 2019: founder

PRAGUE (Reuters) - European hospital and nursing bed maker LINET Group is in talks with three or four bidders over the potential sale of a stake and could wrap up a deal in the first half of 2019, the company’s founder and main shareholder said.

Zbynek Frolik, who holds a 33 percent stake in LINET, told Reuters the company was under no pressure to sell a stake but sought fresh investment to fund growth or acquisitions.

Frolik started LINET in 1990 and has grown it into a global player in more than 100 countries.

He said discussions remained over the company’s valuation, which he saw at around 550 million euros ($621 million), or 11 times expected earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA).

It was not decided if a minority or majority stake would be sold, he said on the sidelines of a conference this week.

“The process is in progress and maybe in the next half a year we can finish,” Frolik told Reuters.

He said two of the bidders seemed to show greater interest than the others.

“We could do in principle nothing because we are satisfied with our performance,” he said. “The target is to grow faster in order to be closest to the biggest companies in the United States and Japan.”

LINET competes with the likes of Paramount Bed Holdings (7817.T) of Japan and U.S. group Stryker (SYK.N).

It started talks on a potential sale a year ago, with JP Morgan advising.

Reuters has reported buyout groups Advent and CVC are among bidders, while Czech financial newspaper Hospodarske Noviny said last month that Chinese group Sino-CEE Fund was bidding.

Frolik declined to comment on bidders.

A group of German shareholders hold a 50 percent share in the Dutch-registered parent LINET Group, which includes German-based bed manufacturer Wissner-Bosserhoff.

LINET’s sales reached 252 million euros and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization reached 38 million euros, for fiscal year ending March 2018. The company aims to grow sales organically to 400 million euros by 2020.

($1 = 0.8854 euros)

Reporting by Jason Hovet; Editing by Mark Potter

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