BRITISH technology firm Edwards, which listed in the US after struggling to float in London, is in talks about a potential sale to Swedish group Atlas Copco, it was reported this weekend.
A $1bn (£640m) sale of the company would end a brief spell as a public firm for the Crawley-based vacuum pump manufacturer, which went public in a cut-price $8 a share float in May 2012.
Edwards’ stock then fell by a quarter, though in recent weeks the company has edged past its original IPO price. A potential sale was first reported by Sky News, which suggested Atlas Copco could offer around $9.20 a share this week.
Lazard, which advises Edwards, declined to comment, while fellow adviser Barclays did not return requests for comment. Atlas Copco did not reply to requests for comment, while Edwards could not be reached.
Edwards had initially attempted to float on the London Stock Exchange in April 2011 in a deal that would have valued the company between £1bn and £1.5bn.
But it was forced to pull this offer after investors would not meet the valuation desired by its private equity owners, CCMP and Unitas Capital. The pair paid £460m for the business in 2007, at the height of the private equity boom.
Any sale of Edwards, which was previously a division of the former FTSE 100 firm BOC, would represent another substantial British manufacturer coming under foreign ownership. Last month engineering firm Invensys agreed to be bought by France’s Schneider Electric for £3.4bn, subject to shareholder approval.
Edwards employs over 3,200 full-time staff and 500 temporary workers in approximately 30 countries worldwide.
It specialises in providing pumps to silicon chip manufacturers who require particle-free conditions for their production lines.