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Exclusive-Astorg considers sale of IP software firm Anaqua, sources say

By Emma-Victoria Farr and Amy-Jo Crowley

FRANKFURT/LONDON (Reuters) -Private equity firm Astorg is considering a sale of its U.S.-based intellectual property software firm Anaqua, four people familiar with the matter told Reuters, with two of them saying the company could be worth as much as $3 billion.

Astorg is in the process of appointing financial advisers to gauge buyer interest in Anaqua, which offers software that manages patents, trademarks and contracts for law firms and corporations, the sources said.

The process is in the early stages and Astorg is expected to proceed with an auction in the second half of the year, the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Astorg declined to comment. Anaqua did not immediately return requests for comment.

Anaqua's competitors include French software firm Questel, backed by IK Partners and Eurazeo, and British-American business Clarivate formerly the intellectual property and science division of Thomson Reuters, according to one of the sources.

Questel is among those considering a possible bid for the business, a fifth person familiar with the process said. Questel did not immediately return requests for comment. IK Partners and Eurazeo declined to comment.

Astorg, which has 21 billion euros ($22.96 billion) of assets under management, bought Anaqua in 2019 for an undisclosed sum. Anaqua has since made a string of acquisitions including Practice Insight in 2022 and Quantify IP, Actio IP and SeeUnity in 2021.

Anaqua's annual earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) totalled around $80 million in 2023, one of the people said.

Founded in 2004, Anaqua's global operations are headquartered in Boston, with offices across the United States, Europe and Asia.

($1 = 0.9148 euros)

(Reporting by Amy-Jo Crowley in London and Emma-Victoria Farr in Frankfurt, editing by Anousha Sakoui, Susan Fenton and Louise Heavens)