Consortium to buy Dun & Bradstreet for $6.9BN

Dun & BradstreetAn investor group led by CC Capital, Cannae Holdings and funds affiliated with Thomas H. Lee Partners LP is to acquire financial services firm Dun & Bradstreet in a take-private deal valued at $5.4 billion, excluding debt.

Under the buyout agreement, shareholders of the 177-year-old Short Hills, N.J., financial-services company will receive $145 in cash for each share of common stock they own, Dun & Bradstreet said late Wednesday in a news release. That represents a premium of about 30% over its closing share price of $111.63 on Feb. 12, the last trading day before the company said it planned a strategic review of the business.

Thomas J. Manning, Dun & Bradstreet’s chief executive, said that the deal is the “culmination of a thoughtful and comprehensive review of the value creation opportunities available to the company as part of a full portfolio and business assessment and exploration of strategic alternatives with multiple financial sponsors”. Mr. Manning and James N. Fernandez, a director of the firm, will serve as CEO and chairman, respectively, through the deal’s closing, Dun & Bradstreet said.

The New York Stock Exchange-listed company will become privately held after the closing of the deal, which it values at $6.9 billion including the assumption of $1.5 billion of Dun & Bradstreet’s net debt and net pension obligations.

“As a private company, Dun & Bradstreet will be well positioned to reinvigorate growth and create increased value for all stakeholders,” said Thomas Hagerty, a managing director at private-equity firm Thomas H. Lee.

The deal will be financed through a combination of committed equity financing provided by the investor group, as well as debt financing that has been committed to by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citigroup Inc. and RBC Capital Markets, Dun & Bradstreet said.

Dun & Bradstreet said its board is unanimously recommending that shareholders vote to adopt the agreement a coming special meeting. The deal is expected to close within six months, subject to shareholder approval, regulatory and other customary conditions, Dun & Bradstreet said.

However, the agreement also provides for a 45-day “go-shop” period to draw more potential buyers, the company said.

Dun & Bradstreet said it would have the right to terminate the deal agreement to enter into a superior proposal subject to certain conditions and procedures.

JPMorgan is serving as financial adviser to the company. Financial advisers to the buyer include BofA Merrill Lynch, Citigroup and RBC Capital Markets, Dun & Bradstreet said.

The company has also released second-quarter earnings, saying it recorded net income of $93 million, or earnings per share of $2.50, on revenue of $439.6 million.

USA, Short Hills, NJ & New York, NY

Vitesse Media to buy InvestmentNews for $27.1M

Vitesse Media plcDigital media and events company Vitesse Media is to acquire InvestmentNews, a leading source of news, analysis and information to the financial advisory community from its parent, Crain Communications Inc., for approximately $27.1 million. The deal is expected to close mid-August.

As part of the deal, InvestmentNews’ leadership team will remain intact — as will its award-winning editorial, multimedia, audience, custom, research & data, marketing, sales and event divisions.

Crain launched InvestmentNews in 1997 as a weekly magazine covering the U.S. financial advice profession. InvestmentNews has since expanded its engagement with its core audience through the launch of an award-winning website, live events and research and data offerings. Today, InvestmentNews is the No. 1 media brand in the financial advice market, with more than 150,000 weekly print readers. InvestmentNews.com garners an average of 545,000 unique visitors each month. In addition, InvestmentNews operates a growing events business, which includes the Retirement Income Summit, Woman Adviser Summit and Best Practices Workshop. It is also produces editorial and custom research relevant to advisers and the businesses that serve them.

Simon Stilwell, who was appointed CEO of Vitesse in August 2017, said, “InvestmentNews is the leading brand in its community, it fits well into the Vitesse stable and provides the company with the opportunity to pursue other bolt on opportunities to expand, especially in its events and data business. Its American presence further allows us to expand our reach geographically, a key aspect of our future strategy.”

Upon completion of the deal, Vitesse will change its name to Bonhill Group plc, subject to shareholders’ approval.

UK, London & USA, New York, NY

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Future to acquire Purch’s consumer division for $132.5M

Future plcGlobal specialist media platform Future plc is to acquire the consumer division of Purch, the next generation digital publishing and marketplace platform, operating in the consumer technology and science verticals. The deal will see Future acquire Purch’s publisher services division (ad sales) along with the Business-to-Consumer (B2C) group in a deal worth over $132 million.

The acquisition will give Future a leading position in consumer technology publishing in the U.S. Purch has successfully grown its digitally-led business and generates more than $1 billion annually in facilitated commerce through its tech, shopping, lifestyle and SMB brands, including Tom’s Guide, Tom’s Hardware, Top Ten Reviews, ShopSavvy and Business.com.

Future CEO Zillah Byng-Thorne said, “Future’s mission to be a technology-enabled global platform for specialist media takes another big step forward today with this announcement. I’ve been impressed by the strength of Purch’s technology platforms and the expertise of its people. Together we can build a combined organization that has scale and growth opportunities ahead. The two businesses share similar cultures – we both share our audiences’ passion, we’re data-driven, ambitious and both have an innovative mindset. From day one Future will be number one in the U.S. consumer technology sector, and beyond this we see clear opportunities for combined growth.”

UK, London & US, San Francisco, CA

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Hg makes strategic investment in Financial Express

Hg Capital plcHg, the manager of HgCapital Trust plc, is to make a significant investment in Financial Express, a leading data, analytics and software vendor focussed on the UK and Australian retail investment funds markets. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed. HgCapital Trust plc will invest approximately £7.5 million in FE, with other institutional clients of Hg investing alongside the Company through the Mercury 2 Fund.

Based on the 30 April 2018 NAV, the company’s liquid resources available for future deployment, including all announced transactions, are estimated to be £145 million (20% of the 30 April 2018 pro forma NAV of £712.8 million). In addition, the company has access to an £80 million standby facility, which is currently undrawn. The investment will reduce the company’s outstanding commitments to invest in Hg transactions over the next four to five years to approximately £587 million.

Founded by Michael Holland and Craig Wilson, FE is a leading provider of investment data, research and software to the financial services industry in the UK and operates a proprietary database of complete retail funds data with global coverage and history, built up over 20 years. Trusted by investors, advisers, asset managers and platforms who use FE data, software and investment advice every day, FE is a leading player in supporting the UK fund industry.

The investment will be made from the Mercury 2 Fund. FE has a number of business characteristics that Hg looks for, including a strong position in the wealth / asset management software and data sector, a well-recognised brand, mission-critical products, and a strong management team led by Neil Bradford.

The investment comes on the back of significant expansion of FE’s global operations and product offering over the past few years, and another year of record growth for the company in 2017.

Sebastien Briens, Partner at Hg, said: ‘We have been following FE for a number of years, and have been impressed by the strength and depth of its data, products, team and vision. We are very pleased to partner with Michael, Craig and Neil in the next stage of growth for the business.’

Neil Bradford, CEO at FE, said: ‘Hg’s track record and experience in our sector means they are the perfect partner to continue FE’s growth strategy and international expansion ambitions. We look forward to working with the Hg team.’

Michael Holland, co founder of FE, said: ‘Data is at the foundation of everything we do and Hg has a deep understanding of the fund data space. I am confident that this partnership will hugely benefit our clients.’

UK, London

Phoenix invests in Capital Economics

Phoenix Equity PartnersPrivate equity firm Phoenix Equity Partners has acquired a controlling stake in independent research company Capital Economics. Phoenix’s investment, which values the business at circa £95m, will be made alongside the existing management team and shareholders. Roger Bootle will retain a significant stake in the business.

Capital Economics is one of the leading independent macro-economic research companies in the world. Their team of more than 60 experienced economists provide award-winning macro-economic, financial markets and sectoral analysis, forecasts and consultancy from offices in London, New York, Toronto, Singapore and Sydney. The business provides research subscriptions, data and events to approximately 1,500 global institutions.

Capital Economics’ existing backer LDC, the private equity arm of Lloyds Banking Group, will exit its minority stake. Since their investment in October 2014, the business has grown revenues by 30% to over £22.5m in its latest financial year, launched several new services and opened new offices in New York and Sydney. It has expanded the team by 30% to over 140 employees across its five locations.

The investment by Phoenix will allow Capital Economics to continue to accelerate its growth. Phoenix’s support will enable investments in new services and in technology to enhance and personalise client delivery. A number of potential acquisitions have also been identified.

Chris Neale, Partner at Phoenix, said: ‘Capital Economics is an exceptional business with outstanding economists and staff, and an unrivalled reputation for macro-economic insight. It has grown every year since inception, building up a global base of loyal repeat clients. Demand for high quality, independent research continues to increase and we are excited about the future potential of the business. We look forward to working with Bob and the team to help accelerate growth over the coming years.’

UK, London

GroupM to acquire majority stake in The Glitch in India

GroupMWPP‘s wholly-owned global media investment group, GroupM, is to acquire a majority stake in The Glitch, a digitally-led creative agency. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

The Glitch was founded in 2009 and employs around 200 people in Mumbai and Delhi. The Glitch’s full-service capabilities include digital, video and content strategy, interactive design technology, ecommerce, branding and media planning. Clients include Unilever, Netflix, OYO Rooms, Shutterstock, Tinder and others in the entertainment, beauty and FMCG sectors.

The Glitch’s revenues for the year ending 31 March 2017 were around INR 214 million with gross assets of around INR 175 million as at the same date.

C.V.L. Srinivas, country manager for WPP India and chief executive GroupM South Asia, said, “The communications ecosystem in India has evolved dramatically in the last few years and GroupM continues to lead the market in creating cutting-edge solutions that leverage data, technology and creativity. With The Glitch, we found a partner that brings exciting creative and content skills that can leverage our unique assets to create effective solutions for our clients.”

USA, New York, NY & India, Mumbai & Delhi

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