GEA Group AG is nearing an agreement to sell its heat-exchangers unit to private-equity firm Triton Advisers Ltd. as it seeks to focus on food-processing equipment, according to people familiar with the situation.
Triton won the bidding process after offering more than 1 billion euros ($1.4 billion) and an agreement may be announced as early as today, said the people, who asked not to be named as the matter is not public yet. Representatives for Triton and Dusseldorf, Germany-based GEA declined to comment.
GEA, founded in 1881 as a metals-trading company and today a manufacturer of milking machines and beer-brewing kit, saw orders decline in Europe and the Americas last year. The heat-exchangers division, which had 2013 earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of 161 million euros on sales of 1.5 billion euros, sells applications for air conditioning and chemical plants.
Triton, which invests in medium-sized businesses in northern Europe, on April 1 agreed to buy a steam auxiliary components business for 730 million euros from France’s Alstom SA.
That business, which makes air preheaters and gas-gas heaters for thermal power plants as well as heat transfer technology for petrochemical and industrial processes, generated 430 million euros in revenue and a “double-digit” operating margin in the most recent fiscal year.
Triton raised about 3.5 billion euros for its fourth pool of capital, Triton Fund IV LP, in 2013.
The companies in Triton’s portfolio, which range from German fertilizer-maker Compo to Danish chemical tanker operator Nordic Tankers, have combined sales of about 13 billion euros and more than 55,000 employees, according to the company’s website.
GEA dropped as much as 2.7 percent in Frankfurt trading and was down 2.1 percent as of 3:39 p.m., valuing the company at 6 billion euros. The company on Feb. 6 fell the most in a year after predicting 2014 profit that disappointed analysts.