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EXCLUSIVE-Charterhouse in the lead to buy Skillsoft -sources

NEW YORK, March 13 (Reuters) - European buyout firm Charterhouse Capital Partners LLP is in advanced talks to acquire education software provider Skillsoft Ltd for more than $2 billion, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

Charterhouse has emerged as the lead contender for Skillsoft following an auction that also drew a binding bid from Providence Equity Partners LLC. Charterhouse is now negotiating final terms of a purchase agreement, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is not public.

The discussions are continuing and the outcome may yet change, the people cautioned.

Skillsoft's private equity owners -- Berkshire Partners LLC, Advent International Corp and Bain Capital LLC -- all declined to comment, as did Providence Equity. Representatives for Charterhouse and Skillsoft did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Skillsoft provides electronic learning solutions to more than 6,000 customers globally, including companies and governments. It uses cloud computing, which allows clients to reduce costs by ditching bulky local servers for network-based software and storage in remote data centers.

(Reporting by Soyoung Kim and Greg Roumeliotis in New York; editing by Andrew Hay)