Private equity battle looms for Danish ISS

City A.M. Reporter

ACKSTONE-led quartet and two rival teams are readying bids for ISS, the $7bn (£4.4bn) Danish cleaning giant as Europe’s biggest post-crisis buyout heats up.

The owners of ISS – Goldman Sachs Capital Partners and Sweden’s EQT – are exploring an initial public offering (IPO) of the company or a sale of it. Blackstone Group, the buyout titan that is raising a near-$15bn fund, is working with Bain Capital, Nordic Capital and Clayton Dubilier & Rice.

CVC and Apollo Management are also preparing a joint bid, while Apax, which can draw on co-investors such as Chinese and Singaporean sovereign wealth funds, is working alone.

Indicative offers for ISS, one of the world’s largest facilities services firms, are due next week.

The owners and all of the other private equity firms either declined to comment or had no immediate comment.

ISS yesterday reiterated it was examining “strategic alternatives” but declined to comment further.

A deal of this size will require big equity cheques from new buyers, hence the four-strong Blackstone team. Purchasers might also draw on a buoyant high-yield market and seek to keep some of ISS’s big, existing debt pile in place.

Citi, Goldman and Nordea are likely to be among ISS’s key existing lenders: the trio arranged a 23bn crown (£2.6bn) refinancing in 2007, Thomson Reuters Loan Pricing Corp (LPC) data shows. ISS sees its main peers as British security services group G4S, French catering and services company Sodexho, UK catering services provider Compass Group and Swedish security services Securitas AB. Goldman and EQT will have to weigh whether a deal, at perhaps a little more than 40bn crowns will offer a better return than an IPO.