Anixter International Inc., the parts maker for cable and specialty wiring systems that counts investor Sam Zell and his son Matthew as board members, is working with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to find a buyer, people with knowledge of the matter said.
The company’s largest shareholder is Chai Trust Co., a division of Zell’s Equity Group Investments. Sam Zell is chairman and his son is a director. Anixter, which has a market value of about $3.4 billion, will look for second-round bids next month, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the process is private.
If Sam Zell sells his 15 percent stake, he’ll be exiting an investment he’s owned for about 30 years. Zell and the company have sought and failed to find a buyer several times over the past few years, one of the people said. Anixter is weighing a sale again as its shares climb and after reporting stronger-than-expected revenue growth, the person said.
French electrical-equipment distributor Rexel SA is one of the bidders, one of the people said. Private-equity firm Carlyle Group LP and U.K. engineering firm Melrose Industries Plc are among those that have looked and passed on buying Anixter in recent weeks, some of the people said.
Lisa Micou Meers, vice president of investor relations for Anixter, didn’t return a call seeking comment. Terry Holt, a spokeswoman for Zell’s Equity Group Investments, declined to comment, as did representatives for Goldman Sachs, Carlyle and Rexel. A representative for Melrose didn’t respond to a request for comment.
The stock, which has increased 50 percent over the past year, climbed 2.1 percent to $104.97 yesterday at the close in New York.
Anixter, based in Glenview, Illinois, reported record fourth-quarter sales, in part because of double-digit growth in Europe and emerging markets, Chief Executive Officer Robert Eck said on a conference call this month. Annual revenue has been stable at about $6.2 billion for the past two years, with earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $389 million.
Zell got into Anixter by acquiring a predecessor company out of bankruptcy in 1983. Chicago-based Zell, who specializes in turning around distressed assets, bought shares in Itel Corp. after the company went bankrupt in 1981. Itel acquired Anixter in 1986. As Anixter was growing, Itel sold off most of the businesses that weren’t related to the cable industry. The remaining company took the Anixter name. Since 2000, Anixter has acquired 10 companies, according to its website.