Industry observers are expecting a minimum of three consortia of private equity companies to submit bids this week to buy Akzo Nobel of the Netherland's pharmaceutical arm Organon.

Both Bloomberg and Reuters, which limited themselves to citing “sources familiar with the situation,” said that one group, including Carlyle and Cinven, is currently evaluating an offer, as is a buyout group including Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co, Warburg Pincus and CVC Capital Partners. Another consortium, consisting of Blackstone, Bain Capital, Alpinvest, Apax and Texas Pacific Group, is also reported to be planning a move. The Blackstone and KKR groups were named by Dutch newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad last week.

The equity firms themselves are saying nothing about any planned bid, while Akzo keeps insisting that it prefers to go down the initial public offering road for Organon. However, the IPO plans were disturbed somewhat by Pfizer's decision to discontinue its role in the development of asenapine, a new schizophrenia drug which was seen as a vital part of any flotation.

An outright sale of the unit is estimated to be worth at least $10 billion, more than Akzo would probably get on the public markets. Such a sum would be particularly useful if, as has been rumoured, Akzo makes a move to acquire UK chemical giant ICI, which is valued at around $11 billion.

Akzo corporate HQ moves to Amsterdam

Meantime, Akzo said that it will move its corporate headquarters to Amsterdam from Arnhem in July. Chairman Hans Wijers said the move would “significantly improve international accessibilty to the firm’s base” and help drive its future success. He claimed: “With the separation of our pharma activities on track, relocating to Amsterdam is also symbolic of our exciting new future as a focused coatings and chemicals company.”