UK private equity firm Apax has taken the lead in the bidding for Danish cleaning company ISS, in what could be the largest European buy-out since the financial crisis, according to reports.
The firm is said to have entered into exclusive talks to acquire the company for $8.5bn including debt.
Blackstone, Bain Capital, Clayton, Dubilier & Rice and Nordic Capital are said to have been working on a joint bid, as have Apollo and CVC.
Goldman Sachs Capital Partners and EQT took the company, which provides cleaning and maintenance services for commercial buildings, private in 2005 for $3.9bn. ISS operates in 53 countries and employs over 500,000 people, posting revenues of DKK69bn (€9.2bn) in 2008.
Apax is also said to be in talks to acquire marketing and sales company Advantage for $1.8bn.
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