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Deutsche Bahn’s Arriva Unit Has the Attention of Buyout Firms and Rivals

Aaron Kirchfeld, Sarah Syed and Simon Foy

(Bloomberg) -- Deutsche Bahn AG, Germany’s state-owned rail operator, has attracted interest from more than 10 buyout firms and competitors for all or parts of its European transport unit Arriva, people familiar with the matter said.

Apollo Global Management LLC, Carlyle Group LP and Lone Star Funds are among suitors that made initial offers for the whole business ahead of Thursday’s deadline, according to the people. It could fetch about 3.5 billion euros ($3.9 billion) to 4 billion euros, the people said, asking not to be identified because the discussions are private.

Rival European transportation firms including Go-Ahead Group Plc, Stagecoach Group Plc and Transdev Group submitted bids for parts of U.K.-based Arriva, the people said. Singapore’s ComfortDelGro Corp., which owns British bus operator Metroline Ltd., also made an offer for some of Arriva’s assets, one of the people said. The sale also attracted preliminary interest from French national train operator SNCF’s Keolis SA unit, according to the people.

Deutsche Bahn announced plans in March to divest Arriva to help pay off debt and is exploring a sale as well as an initial public offering in Amsterdam. It acquired the company, which employs more than 53,000 people in 14 European countries for its bus and rail operations, for 1.6 billion pounds ($1.9 billion) in 2010.

Representatives for Apollo, Carlyle, Deutsche Bahn, Lone Star, Stagecoach and Transdev declined to comment. ComfortDelGro couldn’t immediately be reached for comment during a public holiday Monday in Singapore. Representatives for Go-Ahead and Keolis also didn’t respond to requests for comment.

(Updates with ComfortDelGro interest in third paragraph.)

--With assistance from Marcus Wong and Jan-Henrik Förster.

To contact the reporters on this story: Aaron Kirchfeld in London at akirchfeld@bloomberg.net;Sarah Syed in London at ssyed35@bloomberg.net;Simon Foy in London at sfoy8@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Daniel Hauck at dhauck1@bloomberg.net, Ben Scent, Fion Li

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