LONDON/FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Toshiba (6502.T) has turned down preemptive bids for its Swiss-based smart meter group Landis+Gyr, hoping for a higher price at auction, for which bankers have begun preparing debt packages of around $1 billion, people familiar with the matter said.
Buyout group CVC and Japan's industrial conglomerate Hitachi (6501.T) several weeks ago offered to buy Landis+Gyr for almost $2 billion, and another private equity group also made an offer earlier this year, but both were declined, the sources said.
Toshiba is instead waiting for tentative offers to come in by a May 22 deadline, they said, adding that groups including Advent, AEA, BC Partners, Bain, Blackstone, Carlyle, Cinven, CD&R, Onex and Triton are expected to bid.
CVC declined to comment, while Hitachi was not immediately available for comment. The other bidders also either declined to comment or were not immediately available to comment.
Toshiba said it considering strategic alternatives, including an IPO for Landis+Gyr, adding nothing concrete has been decided yet.
It hired UBS earlier this year on the potential divestment of the group.
Some $1 billion of debt equates to around 5-6 times Landis+Gyr's approximate $200 million in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization, the sources said.
The financing is expected to be denominated in dollars and euros and could either be in the form of leveraged loans or high yield bonds, the sources said.
Smart meter makers have seen a wave of M&A activity. CVC is selling German metering and energy management group Ista, which could be worth up to 4 billion euros, while German metering group Techem could be put up for sale later in the year.
Toshiba bought Landis+Gyr in 2011 for $2.3 billion jointly with state-backed Innovation Network Corporation of Japan, which holds the remaining 40 percent in the company.
Landis+Gyr, in which Toshiba has a 60 percent stake, employs more than 5,700 staff and is active in over 30 countries.
Editing by Christopher Mangham and David Evans