Exclusive: Berkshire in advanced talks to buy H&F's Catalina Marketing - sources

Thu Feb 27, 2014 6:01pm EST
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By Soyoung Kim and Greg Roumeliotis

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Private equity firm Berkshire Partners LLC is in the late stage of negotiations to buy Catalina Marketing Corp from Hellman & Friedman LLC, according to people familiar with the matter, in a deal expected to be worth more than $2 billion.

The Boston-based buyout firm has emerged as the lead bidder in the auction for Catalina Marketing and is in talks to finalize a purchase agreement in coming days, the people said on Thursday.

Discussions are ongoing and could still fall apart, the people cautioned, asking not to be named because the matter is not public. Berkshire and Hellman & Friedman declined to comment, while representatives for Catalina could not be immediately reached for comment.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAC.N: Quote), which is advising Hellman & Friedman on the sale process, also declined to comment.

Reuters first reported in January that Hellman & Friedman was exploring a sale of Catalina Marketing, which has the world's largest shopper history database according to its website.

Catalina has annual earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization of around $230 million and was hoping to fetch at least 10 times that amount in a potential sale, people familiar with the matter said previously.

Catalina says it influences the decisions of more than 75 percent of American shoppers through marketing services that include coupons at retail checkout counters, promotions delivered to consumers' smartphones and websites.

The Saint Petersburg, Florida-based company works with more than 25,000 grocery, drug and department stores across the United States, including Safeway Inc SWY.N, Rite Aid Corp (RAD.N: Quote) and Sears Holdings Corp's (SHLD.O: Quote) Kmart discount chain, according to its website.   Continued...