Advent Said to Lead Bids for Morpho With $2.7 Billion Offer

(Bloomberg) -- Advent International Corp., which owns security-software provider Oberthur Technologies SA, is the leading bidder for Safran SA’s Morpho after submitting an offer that values the biometric unit at about 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion), people familiar with the matter said.

The bid was slightly higher than Gemalto NV’s offer, said the people, who asked not to be named because the talks are private. Three other groups led by buyout firms have also made lower bids, the people said. No final decisions have been made and Advent may not be the winning bidder ultimately, they said.

Safran, which is 15 percent owned by the French government, may decide on the fate of the unit in coming weeks, one of the people said. If Advent’s bid is successful, Morpho could merge with the buyout company’s Oberthur business, a French company that provides payment security services to banks and other financial institutions.

Safran is seeking to sell Morpho, a unit that makes high-tech identification tools for governments and investigative software for police forces, to focus on its core business in aircraft and rocket engines. Earlier offers ranged from 2.1 billion euros to 2.3 billion euros in July, a person familiar with the deliberations said this month.

Representatives for Advent, Safran and Gemalto declined to comment.

Safran rose 2.6 percent to 65.96 euros in Paris trading at 4:44 p.m. The shares have gained 4.1 percent this year.