London is facing a battle to secure a slice of one of the biggest stock market listings anticipated next year as its owners step up preparations for a £5bn flotation.
Sky News understands that the private equity groups behind ISS, a Danish cleaning and catering company that ranks among the world's largest private sector employers, have appointed investment banks to oversee its initial public offering (IPO).
The investment arm of Goldman Sachs and EQT Partners, a Swedish buyout firm, have enlisted bankers from Goldman and UBS for the flotation.
ISS, which has around 500,000 staff, will be floated in Copenhagen but its shareholders are also evaluating the possibility of a dual listing in London, insiders said this weekend.
A decision to include London would deliver a further boost to the City's IPO market, which has been revived in the last 12 months and on Friday saw the spectacular stock market debut of the privatised Royal Mail.
ISS has made at least two previous attempts to list, in 2007 and 2010, and is best-known in the City as the aborted merger partner of G4S, the UK security firm which breached a contract to provide personnel at last year's London Olympics.
G4S and ISS agreed a merger in 2011 but it was abandoned after a revolt by G4S shareholders.
The Danish group is now chaired by Sir Charles Allen, the former ITV boss who also played a key role on the organising committee of the 2012 Olympics.
A £5bn flotation of ISS would value the company at roughly ten times its annual profits, the mid-point at which analysts expect its shareholders to be able to exit their investment.
A large stake in ISS is now owned by Ontario Teachers Pension Plan and Kirkbi, the investment vehicle of the family behind the Lego empire.
Kirkbi is also a big investor in Merlin Entertainments, the theme park operator which plans to announce a London flotation as soon as there is greater clarity about the fate of negotiations over the US government's debt ceiling.
ISS and the investment banks declined to comment.
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