BC Partners, Cinven Set To Buy Amadeus

January 10, 2005

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Two British private equity firms are set to close a deal to buy Spanish travel reservations firm Amadeus for about EUR4.3 billion (USD$5.7 billion) by the end of the week, sources close to the situation said.

BC Partners and Cinven are in the final stages of negotiations, although the talks have not yet concluded and the deal could still fall through, the sources said on Monday.

"It's imminent, you can expect a deal this week," one of the sources said.

The acquisition will be one of the biggest buyouts in Europe by cash rich private equity firms which use high amounts of bank debt to fund their acquisitions.

Cinven, BC Partners, Carlyle and Citigroup Venture Capital, which owns rival travel firm Worldspan, each submitted revised offers for Amadeus last Friday morning.

But over the weekend, Cinven and BC Partners teamed up to make a final approach in a bid to clinch a deal, the sources said.

The parties spent the weekend locked in negotiations with lawyers and bankers and hope to close the deal within the next couple of days.

As part of the deal Amadeus' three key shareholders, Air France, Iberia and Lufthansa have opted to retain the majority of their respective holdings in the travel firm, which connects more than 64,000 travel agencies and books flights on about 500 different airlines, the sources said.

Currently Air France owns about 23 percent of the firm, while Iberia has an 18 percent stake and Lufthansa has 5 percent.

Under the buyout proposal the three airlines will retain a combined 40 percent stake in the company, the sources said.

Amadeus, Iberia, Carlyle, Cinven and BC Partners declined to comment.

(Reuters)