PARIS, Sept 29 Safran has entered
exclusive talks about the sale of its Morpho identity and
security business to Advent International, which owns smartcard
maker Oberthur Technologies, the French aerospace and defence
firm said on Thursday.
The potential sale of Morpho to Advent would value the
business at 2.425 billion euros ($2.7 billion) and result in a
pre-tax capital gain, partially state-owned Safran said in a
Advent was on a shortlist of bidders reported to include
digital security firm Gemalto and three funds: Bain Capital, CVC
Capital Partners and KKR.
With technology and jobs in France at stake, the outcome of
the contest was politically sensitive, especially given the
backdrop of a row over the planned closure of a plant operated
by Alstom, another partially state-owned French champion.
Safran said the business it is selling had revenue of 1.6
billion euros in 2015 and employs 7,800 people.
Advent plans to merge the biometric identification business
with Oberthur, which it bought in 2011, to create a group
headquartered in France with 2.8 billion euros in revenue.
Leading research and development and production capacities
will also stay in France, said Safran, which was advised by
Lazard along with Athena Capital Partners and Societe Generale.
French state bank Bpifrance will take a stake in the
identification business and join the board.
For Safran, the deal completes its refocusing on core
aerospace activities after it agreed earlier this year to sell
Morpho Detection, which makes explosives detection equipment, to
British engineering firm Smiths Group.
($1 = 0.8917 euros)
(Reporting by Tim Hepher; editing by David Clarke)