Final bids for Host Europe, a London-based website hosting company, are due today.
It’s understood that rivals from around the world are battling for control of the group, with US internet provider GoDaddy and Germany’s United Internet – teamed up with teamed up with private equity firm Warburg Pincus – leading the running.
Bankers have valued Host Europe at around £1.6bn to £1.7bn, after it posted a 45 per cent increase in underlying profits to £95m last year. Earnings are forecast to rise to £140m next year.
Host Europe manages some 7m internet domain names and has 1.7m customers across nine data centres and a large business in Germany.
Chaired by former BBC director-general Lord Birt, Host Europe is currently owned by buyout firm Cinven, which bought it from equity rival Montagu for £438m three years ago.
The sale was put on hold by the UK’s European Union referendum, after it first went under the hammer in the spring of 2016.
Earlier this month it was reported that Deutsche Telekom – working with buyout firm Hellman & Friedman – had withdrawn from the bidding for Host Europe.
It was also reported that private equity group Permira, which had teamed with Interroute had also dropped out of the bidding.
There has recently been a rapid rise in demand from small business owners for managed web services, driving up valuations for many website hosts.