FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Australian infrastructure investor Macquarie <MQG.AX> has started preparations for the sale of its German metering group Techem in a deal potentially worth up to 4 billion euros ($4.50 billion), people close to the matter said.
Macquarie has asked JP Morgan <JPM.N>, Deutsche Bank <DBKGn.DE> and its own investment banking unit to organize the divestment, timed to take advantage of robust valuations, the sources added.
Macquarie fought hard to win Techem in a hostile takeover battle in 2006. Prevailing after a year-long struggle with hedge funds and private-equity companies it bought the company in 2007 for 1.5 billion euros ($1.7 billion).
Macquarie and the banks declined to comment.
Techem is held in Macquarie's European Infrastructure Fund 2, established in 2006, which is fully invested since 2010 and whose duration is nearing its end.
Buyout groups typically hold companies for 3-5 years before selling them.
The timing of the planned sale has not yet been decided.
But Macquarie wants to make sure that a sale does not take place at the same time as peer Ista, owned by buyout group CVC and being presented to potential buyers with the help of Goldman Sachs <GS.N>, another person said.
In its fiscal year to March 2016, Techem posted adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of 274 million euros on sales of 744 million euros.
It may be valued at up to 15 times its expected core earnings, people familiar with the industry said.
Techem is a supplier of energy invoicing and energy management in buildings. Founded in 1952 it has 3,500 employees servicing 10.3 million flats.
($1 = 0.8894 euros)
(Reporting by Arno Schuetze; editing by John Stonestreet)