The pan-European book printing group is the subject of a takeover offer from Banque Publique d’Investissement (BPI), the French state-owned bank, together with an unnamed private investor.

However, the deal would mean the banks that currently own CPI would see their investments entirely wiped out, although a figure of €20m has been mooted as part of a possible clawback arrangement to sweeten the deal.

The current banking consortium took ownership of CPI in 2009, in a debt-for-equity swap that reduced its debt to €123m. The €450m turnover printer has been in talks about restructuring the debt again.

The banks involved include the UK’s RBS, which declined to comment.

CPI Group marketing director Anthony Morin said progress had been made over the past fortnight: “Discussions are going in the right direction and are positive, even if they’re not finalised yet.”

Italian book printer Grafica Veneta has also been named as a potential trade buyer for parts of CPI, which has factories in seven countries across Europe but not in Italy. The company did not respond to requests for comment.

“In this type of discussion all types of scenarios are being discussed,” added Morin. “Our intention is to keep the complete group as it is. This makes sense from a strategic point-of-view, there are multiple benefits in being able to pull together all our resources.”

A report in French newspaper Les Echos also cited an upcoming cash crunch for CPI because of the busy pre-Christmas production period, but Morin refuted this. “There is no deadline regarding the cash required. The group is cash positive,” he stated.

The BPI takeover proposal has been submitted to France’s Interdepartmental Committee on Industrial Restructuring (CIRI). CIRI aims to help struggling French companies with 400-plus employees restructure their operations.

The European Union has strict rules on the granting of state aid that could distort competition in the single market.

CPI employs around 620 people in France, out of a group total of 2,900. A source told PrintWeek there was “a great deal of French political will” behind finding a positive outcome.

PrintWeek understands that an announcement is likely within the next week.