Blackstone shops Chinese tech outsourcing firm Pactera to potential buyers
Sale of Pactera could be worth up to $1 billion
U.S. private-equity firm Blackstone Group LP is shopping one of its biggest assets in China, information technology outsourcing firm Pactera Technology International Ltd., for up to $1 billion, according to people familiar with the situation.
Blackstone has hired Morgan Stanley to run a sale process for the company after receiving unsolicited expressions of interest from buyers, they said. Morgan Stanley has sent out initial information, known as a “teaser,” about the company to prospective buyers, according to these people. The sale process is still in an early stage and it could take several months before a deal is reached.
The sale process begins less than two years after a Blackstone-led consortium completed a more than $600 million buyout deal for Nasdaq-listed Pactera in March 2014.
The deal, if completed, would mark an exit for one of Blackstone’s biggest private equity deals in China. The Pactera investment fits Blackstone’s preferred investing model, giving it control of the company. The planned sale is also an example of how China’s market turmoil is encouraging some owners of assets to pursue selling assets rather than face the uncertainty of launching an initial public offering.
Potential buyers for Pactera could pay between $800 million and $1 billion for the company and include a range of financial or industry buyers, according to the people familiar with the situation. Some of those potential buyers may want to list the company domestically or merge Pactera with an already domestically-listed Chinese companies, they said. A paucity of established Chinese technology-related companies trading on the country’s domestic exchanges have boosted multiples for businesses listed in China with a track record.
Beijing-headquartered Pactera and its subsidiaries provide IT outsourcing and consulting services to multinational and Chinese corporations. Pactera reported revenue of $713 million in 2014 and has tried to build up its roster of domestic Chinese clients as spending by local companies on IT has grown. It was formed from the merger of VanceInfo Technologies Inc. and Hisoft Technology International Ltd. in 2012.
Blackstone is expected to make a profit from its investment in the Chinese company, despite declining margins at Pactera. The company’s adjusted operating margin fell below 3% in the first nine months of 2015 from 8.7% in the same period of 2014, according to a December Moody’s statement when it downgraded Pactera’s corporate family rating from B1 from Ba3. The fall in its operating margin was driven by higher wages in China and weaker economic performance in Europe where some of its clients operate, Moody’s said.
Pactera has continued to be active in deal making. Pactera on Jan. 13 sealed a deal to buy Blue Fountain Media, a New York digital branding agency, for an undisclosed amount.
Blackstone started considering Chinese private-equity investments when it set up a Hong Kong office in 2007. That same year, China’s sovereign-wealth fund China Investment Corp. invested $3 billion in Blackstone ahead of its initial public offering.
Last year, Blackstone hired Zhang Liping, a senior Credit Suisse Group AG banker, to head its operations in China.
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