Buyers on alert for sale of police software supplier Civica

(c) Sky News 2017: <a href="">Buyers on alert for sale of police software supplier Civica</a>

The British company behind much of the software used by police and fire services‎ across the country is being prepared for a sale valuing it at more than £500m.

Sky News has learnt that OMERS Private Equity, which is part of a giant Canadian pension‎ fund, has appointed Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS-PB - news) to explore a potential sale of Civica.

Sources said on Thursday that OMERS, which bought Civica in 2013 in a deal worth £390m, had taken note of high valuations for strongly performing businesses and had decided to look at a possible disposal of the business.

A sale process has yet to formally get‎ under way, and may not result in a deal if OMERS cannot secure a big enough price for the business, according to insiders.

Civica is seen as an attractive asset within the business software market, partly because of its broad customer base.

The company works with more than 300 local authorities, blue-light organisations and government agencies around the world.

Its software undertakes one million automatic vehicle number plate checks‎ every day for West Yorkshire Police, provides a platform for managing £43bn of pension funds, and helps housing providers to deal with five million tenants.

Its customers include the Environment Agency, which uses Civica software to plan its response to major flooding‎ incidents.

A sale of Civica would herald the second change in the company's ownership in the last decade, OMERS having bought it from 3i in 2013‎.

It was previously a public company‎ but was taken private by 3i in 2008 in a £200m deal, with executives arguing that being listed had constrained its ability to make long-term decisions aimed at growing the business.

OMERS worked with Goldman on the sale of V Group (Other OTC: VGID - news) , a marine services company, which was bought by Advent International in December.

The Canadian investor declined to comment on Thursday.

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