Private equity firm Apax Partners LLP has entered into exclusive talks with Goldman Sachs and Swedish buyout firm EQT to buy Danish cleaning, security and catering company ISS N V, for $8.5 billion (£5.4 billion) including debt.
If it goes through,the deal would be the largest buyout in Europe since the onset of the global financial crisis and also be the biggest leveraged buyout this year.
Several media yesterday reported that London-based Apax entered exclusive talks after beating bids from others, including a consortium of private equity firms comprising Blackstone Group, Bain Capital, Nordic Capital and Clayton Dubilier & Rice, as well as from CVC Capital Partners working with Apollo Management.
Goldman, which is also advising on the sale, has given Apax less than two months to put funds in place for concluding the deal.
Apax has started the process of entering into talks with several sovereign wealth funds and investors to also invest in the transaction.
Goldman and EQT, which had acquired Copenhagen-based ISS in 2005 for around $3.5 billion, had in August 2010 planned to either sell ISS or go in for an initial public offering.