According to reports, private equity groups Cinven and BC Partners are in advanced talks to acquire the Amadeus travel reservation business in a deal worth about €4.3bn ($5.6bn).
The pair have teamed up to make a joint bid after initially bidding separately for the Madrid-based company, which has been running an auction lasting several months.
According to The Saturday Times, Amadeus had previously received bids from four shortlisted private equity house. Carlyle Group, BC Partners, Cinven and Citigroup Venture Capital are understood to have submitted proposals which value the company at £2.8 billion.
Shortlisted bidder, Citigroup Venture Capital, owns rival travel firm Worldspan, which has sparked speculation as to whether a possible Amadeus-Worldspan merger has resumed. According to Travel Weekly, such a merger (with Worldspan) would give Amadeus an e-commerce presence and an airline hosting system in the US.
Amadeus is currently owned by three main shareholders - Lufthansa, Air France and Iberia - with the remainder of shares currently held by large financial institutions. It is uncertain how larger portion of their holdings these carriers will keep following the transaction.