Private equity groups Astorg and Epiris have approached FTSE 250-listed financial publisher Euromoney Institutional Investor with a £1.6bn buyout proposal.
The “possible cash offer” of £14.61 per share is the duo’s fifth approach to take the company private, with four previous offers from £11.75 to £13.50 per share, Euromoney said in a statement on Monday.
Euromoney said its board was in talks with the buyout groups, but added that “there can be no certainty that an offer will be made nor as to the terms on which any offer might be made”.
The offer is at a premium to Euromoney’s £10.88 share price and values the company’s equity at about £1.6bn. Epiris declined to comment and Astorg did not immediately respond to a request to comment.
The UK company, which owns the Euromoney financial magazine and runs exhibitions, has been planning an acquisitions spree after growing demand for its data services helped it recover from a collapse in events during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Its finance chief Wendy Pallot said in October that it had a “lot of firepower” for deals.
Euromoney’s shares plummeted at the beginning of the pandemic and have not returned to pre-Covid levels, though they have risen almost 16 per cent since the start of the year.
The company made pre-tax profits of £61.4mn in 2021, up from £54.3mn in 2020. Its latest annual report said 70 per cent of its revenue came from subscriptions and 18 per cent from events, with the rest from other activities.
Private equity groups, many of which are sitting on large pools of committed capital ready to deploy, are increasingly looking to the UK stock market for bargain deals.
Last year PE groups announced bids for UK-listed companies at the fastest pace in more than two decades, including one of the UK’s largest take-private transactions, the £10bn acquisition of grocer Wm Morrison by US-based Clayton, Dubilier & Rice.
The pace of dealmaking sparked a pushback from some traditional UK fund managers who said buyout groups were snapping up companies too cheaply.
London-based Epiris was founded in 2016 by a group of executives who left buyout group Electra after activist investor Ed Bramson took over. It owns the auction house Bonhams and has previously owned Time Inc’s UK operations, whose titles include Woman’s Weekly, Country Life and Horse & Hound.
Paris-based Astorg’s previous UK deals include the 2019 acquisition of the scientific measurement and testing company LGC Group.
The buyout groups’ proposal is subject to due diligence. It will not be adjusted for the payment of a 6.1p per share dividend, due on June 24, the company said.
Under UK takeover rules, Astorg and Epiris have until July 18 to make a firm offer or walk away.