Credit crunch forces Apax to postpone Emap bid

Apax Partners has reportedly been forced to postpone its bid for UK media business Emap while it struggles to find a bank prepared to underwrite the bid.

Apax Partners’ bid for Emap, the owner of lads’ mag FHM and UK radio stations Kiss and Magic, has been delayed for several weeks since the firm has not found a bank prepared to finance the bid, which could be as much as £2 billion ($4 billion, €3 billion).

The Times newspaper reported that Apax is struggling to find a credit backer in the light of the European credit squeeze, which is suffocating several buyout deals. Two days ago, Virgin Media confirmed that its auction too has been postponed for the summer. Bidders are thought to include The Carlyle Group, The Blackstone Group, KKR, Cinven and Apax.

Last month, Emap hired Lazard to explore its sale options. The business has attracted considerable private equity interest, including from Cinven and CVC Capital Partners, but potential bidders have struggled to make tempting offers.

Apax is thought to be in discussions with Guardian Media Group about a potential joint bid for Emap. The two companies have invested together before – in February, Apax bought a 49 percent stake in Trader Media Group, one of GMG’s businesses, for £650 million.