UK vacuum firm Edwards to float, scraps sale plans

By Victoria Howley and Quentin Webb

LONDON (BestGrowthStock) – British vacuum technology company Edwards said it plans to list next year, ending an auction in which it would have been sold to a new set of private equity backers or to a trade rival.

Edwards had hired banks to explore a sale or flotation in September. Its owners CCMP Capital and Unitas Capital, both former buyout arms of JP Morgan (JPM.N: ), value the business at about 1.5 billion pounds ($2.4 billion), people familiar with the matter told Reuters at that time.

Since then, it has run an auction that has drawn interest from major private equity firms including U.S. heavyweights Advent International, Bain Capital and The Carlyle Group (CYL.UL: ), people familiar with the matter said, although the cyclicality of the business was a concern.

Gardner Denver Inc (GDI.N: ), the U.S.-based maker of air compressors and pumps, also considered acquiring Edwards, some of the people said.

Edwards technology, including pumps that can create vacuums as empty as space, is used by all of the world’s 10 biggest chipmakers, including Advanced Micro Devices Inc (AMD.N: ) and Hynix Semiconductor Inc (000660.KS: ).

In November it said third-quarter net sales rose 75 percent to $257 million, powering a 552 percent leap in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) to $74 million. Semiconductor revenue more than doubled.

Potential equity market investors could benchmark it against listed German rival Pfeiffer Vacuum Technology AG (PV.DE: ). Pfeiffer trades at about 8.6 times forecast EBITDA, according to Starmine data.

Edwards did not say where it planned to list.

London has had a difficult year for technology-related flotations: it has hosted initial public offerings (IPOs) this year from Betfair (BETF.L: ), Ocado (OCDO.L: ) and Promethean World (PRWP.L: ), but all are trading below their debut prices.

(Additional reporting by Simon Meads; Editing by Dan Lalor and David Holmes)

($1 = 0.6301 pound)

UK vacuum firm Edwards to float, scraps sale plans