Private equity firms KKR and Permira to sell ProSiebenSat stake — report

Buyout firms KKR & Co LP (NYSE:KKR) and Permira Advisers LLP are considering selling their majority interest in German broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG (ETR:PSM) to a trade buyer, the Financial Times reported.

Informed people told the paper that the private equity firms had hired JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE:JPM) to help them review their options for a potential partial or full exit of the business. According to two of the sources, US media and entertainment company Time Warner Inc (NYSE:TWX) could be one of the potential bidders at this early stage.

The consultants may also offer the controlling interest to German newspaper publisher Axel Springer AG (ETR:SPR), which, however, may face certain antitrust issues. Comcast Corp (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and News Corp (NASDAQ:NWSA) are also considered as potential candidates.

In 2006, US-based KKR and UK-headquartered Permira acquired their majority stake in ProSieben for EUR3.1bn (USD4.2bn), valuing the entire company at about EUR5.9bn.

Permira-backed Consumer invests in Japanese sushi chain Akindo

Irish investor Consumer Equity Investments Ltd (CEIL), backed by British buyout firm Permira Advisers LLP, said on Friday it had agreed to buy the stake held by Japan’s Unison Capital Inc in local sushi restaurant chain Akindo Sushiro Co Ltd.

The transaction values the Japanese business at about USD1bn (EUR797bn) in terms of enterprise value. It represents the fourth investment in Asia supported by the Permira funds and also the second one in Japan alone after the purchase of agrochemical business Arysta Lifescience Corp in 2008.

CEIL said it will assist the management team of Akindo Sushiro in extending the business’ store network domestically and internationally. Both the Irish firm and the Permira funds are committed to providing funding resources for this purpose, while maintaining the Japanese company’s independence, Permira partner Alex Emery stated.

Osaka-based Akindo Sushiro has established itself over the last few years as the number-one revolving sushi restaurant chain in the country in terms of revenue and currently operates 335 revolving counter sushi bars. As of December 2011, the company also has presence in South Korea. For the fiscal year to 30 September 2011, Akindo Sushiro generated a revenue of some JPY100bn (USD1.3bn/EUR1bn). It has a headcount of more than 1,000 full time and 10,000 part time employees.

Nomura Securities offered financial advice to CEIL in this transaction.

UK private equity firm Permira in talks to acquire Nokia’s luxury handset brand Vertu

Finnish mobile phone maker Nokia Oyj (NYSE:NOK) has reached the advanced stage of negotiations over the sale of its luxury handset subsidiary Vertu to UK-based private equity firm Permira, as the company looks to shed non-core assets in a bid to revive its devices unit.

The Financial Times reported that the disposal is expected to generate around EUR200m (USD265m) for Nokia, which was once considered the undisputed leader on the mobile phone market, but is now struggling to make inroads into the smartphone business. Efforts also include accelerating cost reductions at the division, the newspaper said.

For Permira, a successful outcome of the talks would mean another luxury brand in its portfolio, which includes fashion labels Hugo Boss and Valentino. According to the sources, there is no certainty yet that the parties would reach an agreement. Nokia has enlisted the advisory services of Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS). None of the companies mentioned agreed to comment to the FT.

Swedish-based private equity group EQT Partners has also held talks with Nokia over acquiring Vertu but sources familiar with the matter report that there is currently no development on that front. The FT said that some luxury goods companies had also indicated interest in buying the brand.

Vertu was set up by Nokia in 1998 and has become known as the maker of the most expensive handsets in the world. The UK-based business makes devices whose price sometimes exceeds GBP200,000. The hand-made phones with precious metal components are sold in over 60 countries. Vertu’s annual revenues are estimated at between EUR200m and EUR300m, the FT added.