Italy’s Cerved secures $ 2.2 billion offer from Singapore’s GIC, ION

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MILAN (Reuters) – ION Group made a takeover bid worth € 1.86 billion ($ 2.2 billion) for Milan-based Cerved, just days after the company private financial technology firm bought Italian banking software provider Cedacri.

Dublin-based ION, led by Italian businessman Andrea Pignataro, has partnered with Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC for the Cerved offer, which has boosted shares of the Italian group by nearly 20%. analysis and management of credit, in line with the price of the offer.

ION expects to pay 9.5 euros per share, which represents a premium of 43% on the average share price over the last 12 months.

Cerved declined to comment on the offer.

Shares of Cerved had climbed 14.6% on Monday after the company confirmed negotiations with private equity funds to sell its bad debt collection business, which was first reported by Reuters this weekend. end.

ION’s candidacy proposal includes funding from the Italian public fund FSI, whose involvement according to broker Equita has reduced the risks that the Italian government could intervene with its “golden powers” which allow it to veto the agreements in areas of strategic national interest.

Cerved has long been viewed as a takeover target. In 2019, U.S. private equity firm Advent sought to take the company private in a € 1.85 billion bid that was abandoned when reports of the approach raised the price of Cerved’s action.

ION said in a statement on Tuesday that it is committed to supporting Cerved’s current business plan, leveraging its expertise in the software and data analytics industries, without ruling out redesigning operations. of Cerved in the future.

Cerved runs both a credit data analysis and a loan collection business, which it tries to sell after losing a long-term contract with Monte dei Paschi bank and failing to expand the division’s business into Greece.

Under Pignataro, ION has grown through acquisitions, culminating with the Cedacri deal of 1.5 billion euros last week.

Previously, ION took a controlling stake in financial reporting firm Acuris for £ 1.35 billion in 2019 and bought trading software company Fidessa for £ 1.5 billion in 2018.

ION is launching an offer on Cerved via the Castor investment vehicle, controlled by the FermION Investment group, in which ION holds 85.75% and GIC 10%. Institutional investors hold the remaining 4.25%. FSI’s funding can be converted into an indirect interest in Castor.

The offer is conditional on Castor obtaining at least 90% of the shares in Cerved, but the threshold condition can be lifted. Cerved will be removed from the list if the offer is accepted.

Credit Suisse, Intesa Sanpaolo, Sociedad De Valores and Goldman Sachs acted as financial advisers to ION; Cleary Gottlieb and Chiomenti as legal advisers.

Additional reports by Elvira Pollina and Giulia Segreti; edited by Lincoln Feast, Jason Neely and Jane Merriman

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