Scandlines, a Danish-German ferry operator, is being prepared for a sale after owners 3i Group Plc and Allianz Capital Partners GmbH hired banks to find a buyer, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and ING Groep NV will advise and finance a potential sale, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. Scandlines may be worth about 1.4 billion euros ($1.8 billion) and attract infrastructure funds, the people said.
A major long-term risk for Scandlines is government plans to build a tunnel linking Denmark and Germany, potentially reducing a need for ferry use. The Danish-German route accounts for the majority of Scandlines’ business, according to its annual report. Denmark and Germany plan to start building what will become the world’s longest combined road and rail tunnel beneath the Fehmarn Belt strait in 2015 and aim to open it by 2021, according to a statement on the tunnel’s website.
Officials at Goldman, ING, Scandlines and 3i declined to comment on a sale process, and Allianz Capital Partners couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.
The company, which is based in Copenhagen and Rostock, Germany, and traces its roots to an 1872 ferry route, transported 11.5 million passengers, 2.6 million cars and 640,000 trucks on its three main routes last year, its website shows. Scandlines in May agreed to sell five ferry routes to Stena Line AB of Sweden to focus on the Danish-German routes.
Scandferries Group, the holding company for Scandlines, reported that 2011 profit fell by half to 10 million euros, even as sales grew by about 8 percent to 611 million euros.
3i, Britain’s oldest private-equity firm, and Allianz Capital Partners, the buyout unit of Germany’s largest insurer Allianz SE, each own 49 percent of Scandferries Group. The rest is owned by management.
The two private-equity investors, along with shipping company Deutsche Seereederei GmbH, agreed in 2007 to jointly acquire Scandlines from Germany’s national rail operator Deutsche Bahn AG and the Danish government for 1.56 billion euros. 3i and Allianz Capital Partners bought out Deutsche Seereederei’s stake in 2010.