EQT, Bridgepoint Put Sale Processes on Ice Amid Market Turmoil

(Bloomberg) -- European private equity firms are putting plans to divest portfolio companies on ice, as the market rout and weak business performance keep bidders away.

EQT AB is deferring the sale of software maker IFS, people with knowledge of the matter said. It collected initial bids earlier this month from buyout funds valuing the business at more than 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion), the people said.

The Nordic investment firm wasn’t willing to consider a coronavirus-related discount if any suitors lowered their offers in the next round of bidding, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

It now plans to hold onto the business for longer, the people said. IFS makes enterprise resource planning software used by companies in industries including aerospace, manufacturing, engineering and telecommunications.

Bridgepoint is also postponing the sale of Iberian agrochemical business Rovensa, people familiar with the matter said. A sale of Rovensa was initially expected to fetch more than 1.2 billion euros, Bloomberg News reported in December.

While several private-equity suitors were asked to make final bids last week, they decided against submitting binding offers as market conditions continued to deteriorate, the people said. Bridgepoint now plans to invite bids in May, when there should be more clarity on how the epidemic will impact the company’s performance, one of the people said.

Representatives for EQT and Bridgepoint declined to comment.

European firms have now put many of their pending M&A processes on hold until there is more clarity on the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. While they’re hoping to rekindle discussions when the market turmoil subsides, some of the deals may not be revived immediately or could ultimately be canceled.

National Bank of Greece SA has halted the sale of its Ethniki Insurance unit, while Austrian landlords S Immo AG and Immofinanz AG have delayed merger talks until the coronavirus crisis abates, people familiar with the matter said this week. Air Liquide SA’s sale of its German disinfectants unit has also been hurt after bidders’ access to financing was curbed, Bloomberg News has reported.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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