EQT explores GVA sale 

The private equity owner of GVA has begun market-testing appetite for a sale of the business.

EQT has appointed Bank of America Merrill Lynch to undertake the process and has sent out teaser documents to prospective interested parties.

The Swedish private equity firm attached €200m (£176.6m) of debt to the business in 2016 and any ultimate sale is expected to recoup in excess of this figure.

GVA employs 1,500 staff across 12 UK offices. The business is renowned for advising both public and private sector clients on regeneration and redevelopment, planning, professional services, property management as well as having a strong regional presence.

Split from Apleona

EQT split GVA from its parent company Apleona in January, which would make it a more straightforward proposition for a potential buyer. Former JLL EMEA board member Andy Motram was also appointed as chairman.

Apleona is the broader building and facilities business that was previously part of Bilfinger.

In an interview with EG in January, Hughes said:  “People will speculate about us being up for sale as we are owned by private equity. Private equity will exit at a point and nothing changes in that respect.

“We are working towards fulfilling our potential as a business. It is not the intention for the business to change hands in the short to medium term, but who knows? I can’t speculate on what will happen. That is no different now though [with the new structure] to what it was before.”

Bilfinger deal

EQT bought the building and services division of Bilfinger, which also included a facilities management and construction arm, in 2016 for €1.2bn. As part of that deal an agreement was made in which Bilfinger would receive 49% of any subsequent sale of GVA.

In 2016 the process attracted interest from the likes of JLL, CBRE, French facilities management firms ENGIE and Sodexo, private equity firm Triton Partners and Lambert Smith Hampton owner Countrywide.

Discussions were held with Lambert Smith Hampton last year over a deal to bring the two businesses together, backed by Toscafund Asset Management, although these did not progress and no discussions are currently ongoing.

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