Weir launches sale of flow control business

British engineer Weir has launched the sale of its flow control business in a move that could value the supplier of pumps and valves at more than 300 million pounds ($389 million), according to sources with knowledge of the matter.

Bankers for the FTSE 250 listed company have sent out confidential information about the division to prospective buyers ahead of an auction of the business, two sources told Reuters.

The unit is expected to generate core earnings of 38 million pounds next year and first round bids are due on Nov. 9, according to one of the sources. Goldman Sachs is handling the sale.

The flow control business supplies a variety of pump and valve products to a range of sectors, including the power generation and the oil and gas industries.

Glasgow-based Weir said it would offload the division in April, when it announced its $1.3 billion acquisition of U.S. mining tools business Esco Corporation.

The company traces its roots back 147 years, to when brothers James and George Weir developed a new type of pump for steamships.

The group has since grown into an engineering giant with a market value of about 3.8 billion pounds and annual revenues last year of almost 2.4 billion pounds.

The purchase of Esco, which completed in July, and disposal of the flow control unit helps to shift Weir's focus onto mining and the upstream oil and gas markets.

One of the sources said they expected flow control to fetch about eight times its estimated core earnings, which would value the division at over 300 million pounds.

U.S valve-maker Circor's purchase of Colfax's fluid handling unit a year ago valued that business at 12.3 times its adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation, excluding synergies and tax benefits.

Including tax benefits and synergies that deal valued the Colfax unit at 8.3 times.

A Weir spokesman declined to comment.

($1 = 0.7711 pounds)

(Reporting by Ben Martin; Editing by Jan Harvey)

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