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Advent seeking smart card firm

By Bloomberg News
August 5, 2011

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Advent International Corp., a Boston leveraged buyout firm, is in talks to buy 90 percent of Francois-Charles Oberthur Fiduciaire SA’s smart card unit.

The deal would value the business at about $1.6 billion, the firm said. The founding Savare family plans to keep 10 percent of the unit, whose security and identification technology is used in the mobile telecommunications, payment, and transport industries.

“We want to help the company grow internationally in emerging markets like Brazil, as well as in countries like the US where smartcards could be more developed,’’ said Pascal Stefani, head of Advent in France. The business provides smart cards used in mobile phones and credit cards. Advent had vied for the unit with private-equity firms such as Bain Capital LLC, also of Boston, and PAI Partners, people familiar with the matter said in June.

The buyout firm plans to use debt equivalent to 4.5 times the unit’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization to help fund the deal, Stefani said.

Oberthur is seeking to boost its banknote business through acquisitions, chief executive Thomas Savare said this year.