Abry Partners Said to Mull Exit Options for Language Line

  • Buyout firm said in talks with advisers about sale this year
  • Language Line refinanced $640 million in loans in 2015

Abry Partners, a Boston-based buyout firm, is considering a sale of translation services company Language Line less than a year after refinancing its debt, said people familiar with the matter.

The buyout firm has held talks with investment banks about a potential sale of the company in the second half of 2016, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. A sale could value the company at more than $1 billion, the people said.

An exit would mark the end of a long history of Language Line under Abry, which bought the company for $720 million in 2004, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Abry abandoned efforts to sell or list the group in 2010 amid the European sovereign debt crisis, a process that could have valued the group at about $2 billion. A plan to loosen terms on Language Line’s debt and pay itself a dividend was dropped in 2014 amid investor opposition.

Language Line, based in Monterey, California, began selling translation services by phone in 1982 and has since expanded into document translation and video interpreting. The company successfully refinanced $640 million in loans last October, pushing out maturities and avoiding a breach of loan terms.

In reviewing last year’s proposed refinancing, Moody’s Investors Service said in June that Language Line had revenues of $358 million for the 12 months ended March 31.

Spokesmen for Abry and Language Line did not respond to e-mail requests seeking comment.

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