Charterhouse Said to Make Buyout Approach for Sorin

Charterhouse Capital Partners LLP approached shareholders of Sorin SpA about buying the Italian maker of cardiovascular devices in a deal that would value the company at about 960 million euros ($1.2 billion), said people with knowledge of the matter.

Charterhouse, a London-based private-equity firm, contacted owners including Mittel SpA to discuss a 2-euro-a-share offer, said the people, who asked not to be named because the talks aren’t public. Milan-based Sorin rose the most in more than three years.

“We believe that 2 euros per share, which is in line with our current target price, could be an interesting value also for the minority shareholders in case of a public offer,” said Paola Saglietti, an analyst at Banca Akros in Milan, in a report today. She recommends buying the stock.

Such a deal would be the largest announced purchase in Italy by a private-equity firm since May 2011, when BC Partners Ltd. said it would buy Gruppo Coin SpA for 930 million euros, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Other private-equity firms also have approached Sorin about a potential acquisition, one of the people said, without identifying the parties. No formal negotiations are under way and a deal isn’t imminent, this person said. Charterhouse made its own approach this month, another person said.

Shareholder Confirmation

A shareholder group consisting of Mittel, Equinox Two ScA Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA and Unipol Gruppo Finanziario SpA confirmed today that it received expressions of interest about the acquisition of a “sizeable stake” in Sorin. The approaches have come both from financial firms, including Charterhouse, and industrial companies, the group said in a statement put out at the request of the Italian market regulator.

Some of the talks centered on a price range of between 1.55 and 1.60 euros a share, according to another person close to the situation. Financing is becoming harder to line up for private-equity firms, this person said. Recent earthquakes in the Emilia Romagna region, which damaged a Sorin plant there, also may make a valuation harder, this person said.

Sorin climbed 11 percent to close at 1.69 euros in Milan, the biggest advance since April 28, 2009. Sorin’s stock has risen 43 percent this year, compared with an 8.9 percent decline for the FTSE MIB Index.

Pact Expiration

Private-equity firms are looking at Sorin because an agreement among the four shareholders in the group expires this year, one person said. The group owns 35.7 percent of Sorin and its agreement ends Nov. 18, it said in the statement today.

Mittel is a Milan-based financial-services company headed by Intesa Sanpaolo SpA Chairman Giovanni Bazoli, Equinox is an investment fund run by Salvatore Mancuso, Siena-based Monte dei Paschi is Italy’s third-largest bank and Bologna-based Unipol is an insurer.

Officials at Sorin and Charterhouse declined to comment on a potential transaction.

Sorin’s products include implantable defibrillators, heart valves, oxygenators and heart-lung machines. The company had net income of 58 million euros last year on sales of 743.4 million euros. The company has more than 3,750 employees, according to its website.

Mittel and Equinox held exclusive talks in 2010 about Sorin with a group that included Ares Life Sciences AG, Essex Woodlands Health Ventures UK Ltd., Intesa Sanpaolo and Alpha Private Equity Funds. Sorin granted the investment firms limited access to its books as part of the talks. The discussions ended without an agreement.

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