PARIS, March 25 (Reuters) – Private equity group Advent has launched the sale of French biometrics and fingerprint identification firm IDEMIA, a deal expected to be worth several billion euros, business daily Les Echos reported on Saturday.

Reuters reported in September, citing sources familiar with the matter, that Advent was preparing to start the sale process after mandating banks Goldman Sachs and Rothschild.

Les Echos, also citing sources, said that the sale was launched last week and first offers were expected by April 18.

Advent plans to sell IDEMIA as a single entity including both its biometrics and payment activities, with a potential valuation of 5 billion to 6 billion euros ($5.4 billion-$6.5 billion), Les Echos said.

Sources had told Reuters last year that IDEMIA could be tentatively valued at around 4 billion euros.

IDEMIA and Advent both declined to comment.

$1 = 0.9295 euros Reporting by Gus Trompiz and Bertrand Boucey; editing by Jason Neely