CVC Agrees to Buy German Metering Company Ista From Charterhouse

CVC Capital Partners Ltd., the London-based buyout firm founded in 1981, said it agreed to buy a majority stake in German energy-metering business Ista International GmbH from Charterhouse Capital Partners LLP, regaining control of a company it sold in 2007.

CVC, which already held a minority stake, plans to complete the transaction by mid-year, according to an e-mailed statement today. The offer values Ista at about 3.1 billion euros ($4.1 billion) including debt, according to a person familiar with the transaction, who asked not to be identified because the price wasn’t disclosed.

Charterhouse bought Ista from CVC for 2.4 billion euros in 2007, and then CVC re-invested part of the proceeds to buy a stake in Ista. Last December, Charterhouse hired Deutsche Bank AG and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to advise on the sale of the German firm, people familiar with the situation said at the time.

Ista, based in Essen, provides electricity, water, heat and gas-meter reading services and hardware to property managers, home owners and utilities in 25 countries. The company may benefit from tougher European Union rules that require energy distributors to save 1.5 percent of their sale volumes annually, as part of efforts to meet the EU’s target of 20 percent energy savings by 2020.

“Ista does not only have an excellent position with outstanding growth prospects in the field of energy efficiency, but also has a very experienced management team and highly dedicated employees,” said Marc Strobel, a partner at CVC, in today’s statement.

Low borrowing costs for potential buyers and rising equity markets have made exiting investments easier for private-equity firms. Buyout transactions totaled $115 billion in the first quarter, up from the fourth and first quarters of 2012, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Officials at Charterhouse couldn’t be immediately reached for comment outside of regular business hours.

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