Moto Shareholder EPIC Said to Weigh Buyout of Rest-Stop Operator

The minority owner of Moto Hospitality Ltd. is considering buying the rest of the company in a deal that may value the U.K. highway service-station operator at about 1 billion pounds ($1.5 billion), people with knowledge of the matter said.

Equity Partners Infrastructure Company, which bought a stake in Moto from Australian bank Macquarie Group Ltd. in 2009, is likely to exercise an option to buy the rest of the company, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

Macquarie hired Citigroup Inc. earlier this year to sell Moto, the people said. Groups including 3i Infrastructure Plc, the infrastructure arms of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Morgan Stanley and RREEF Infrastructure, part of Deutsche Bank AG’s asset management unit, have considered bidding for the stake, they said.

The auction is running alongside negotiations with EPIC, which has first right of refusal, two of the people said. Sales documents have been sent out and bids are due at the end of this month, the people said.

Service-station owners are selling to profit from growing demand for infrastructure-like assets that offer steady cash flow and expansion opportunities. The infrastructure funds use those profits to return money to shareholders and make acquisitions.

U.K. gas station operator Euro Garages is working with Rothschild to look at options including a sale that could value the company at as much as 1 billion pounds, people with knowledge of the matter said this week.

Terra Firma Capital Partners, Guy Hands’s private-equity firm, is selling German highway rest-stop chain Autobahn Tank & Rast GmbH, people familiar with the matter have previously said.

Moto is one of the largest service-station operators in the U.K. with 45 locations and about 6,000 staff, according to the company’s website. Holding company Moto Ventures reported profit before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of 91.6 million pounds in 2014 on revenue of 803.4 million pounds, according to its annual report.

Moto completed a refinancing in March of this year to reduce debt costs and free up money for investments.

Spokesmen for Macquarie, 3i, RREEF and Morgan Stanley declined to comment. Spokesmen for Moto, EPIC, Citi and JPMorgan did not respond to e-mail requests seeking comment.

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