Astorg hires Goldman to sell funeral firm OGF: sources

Tue Apr 16, 2013 10:53am EDT
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By Christian Plumb and Anjuli Davies

PARIS/LONDON (Reuters) - Buyout firm Astorg Partners has hired Goldman Sachs (GS.N: Quote) to look for a buyer for France's leading funeral services firm, OGF, sources familiar with the mandate said.

The auction of the company, which Astorg acquired for an enterprise value of roughly 300 million euros ($393 million) in 2007, is in its early stages and could be complicated by the links between economic growth - at a virtual standstill in France - and willingness to spend on funeral services.

Still, OGF has earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of about 100 million euros, so could sell for 800 million to 1 billion including debt, based on typical multiples for such deals, one of the sources said.

OGF had 2012 revenue of 533 million euros, representing about a quarter of the French funeral services industry, according to its website.

Astorg Partners and Goldman Sachs both declined to comment.

The sale would be the latest in a series of efforts by private equity firms to sell on companies bought in 2006-2007 when the European buyout market was booming, helped by a ready supply of debt.

The market - particularly in France - has slowed to a trickle as of late as many buyout firms have had trouble attracting interest from other funds for businesses which have already cut costs under a previous round of owners.

OGF, which has more than 5,500 employees, is itself on at least its second private equity buyer, and the 170-year-old firm was owned in the latter part of the 1990s by U.S. funerals company Service Corporation International.   Continued...

A Goldman Sachs sign is seen on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange, March 15, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid