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

Bridgepoint Development Capital to acquire Private Equity International

BridgepointBridgepoint Development Capital is to acquire a majority stake in PEI Media – the global provider of insight, market-data and business conferences for professionals active in alternative asset class investment. Details of the transaction were not disclosed. The business is being acquired from its founders, management and minority shareholder, LDC.

PEI Media focuses on private investment markets in real estate, infrastructure, private equity, and private debt – including specialist sector-specific activities within those private asset markets. The group has developed deep connections with international sources of alternative investment capital since its inception in 2001. Clients served include public sector and company pension plans, insurance groups, endowments and family offices – as well as leading private-asset fund managers who raise and deploy capital raise from institutional investors.

PEI was formed following a management buyout from Euromoney Institutional Investor plc. It has grown a diversified portfolio of alternative asset-focused publications, databases and branded events. Headquartered in London with offices in Hong Kong and New York, the company currently employs around 180 people and has clients based in over 80 countries. The company’s publications include PERE, Infrastructure Investor, Private Debt Investor, Private Equity International, Real Estate Capital, Private Funds Management, Agri Investor and Secondaries Investor, amongst others.

BDC Partner Robin Lawson said, “PEI is recognised for its differentiated insight into the worlds of multiple alternative asset classes. As investors look for higher yields, continued inflows into these classes means that there is growing demand for the information, analysis and event-networking opportunities of providers like PEI. Today’s investment by BDC will support the continued international expansion of the business as well as further development of its technology platform and digital product set. Our aim in working with PEI’s management will be to ensure that it remains best-placed to scale its digital offering in a growing market and deliver progressive evolution of its specialist-brand in line with advancing client needs. In this way, we expect that increasingly sophisticated customers, both existing and new, will remain able to access the information and market connections they increasingly need to be successful in their global alternative investment strategies.”

UK, London

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AgriBriefing rumoured to be up for sale

AgriBriefingBetaville is reporting that agribusiness media, price reporting and intelligence company AgriBriefing is about to be sold by its private equity owners, Lyceum Capital.

AgriBriefing creates and sells prices for eggs, red meat and animal feed and publishes the Farmers Guardian. The company also runs Britain’s largest farm machinery and equipment show – Lamma.

Reports suggest that Lyceum is unlikely to begin a sale process until later this year or early 2019 as it has just appointed Raymond James to carry out a strategic review.

UK, London

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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

Euromoney acquires European investment industry survey Extel

EuromoneyEuromoney Institutional Investor PLC, the international business information and events group, has acquired 100% of the business and assets of Extel from WeConvene. Extel will be integrated into Euromoney’s Institutional Investor Research business which is well known for its sell-side analyst and corporate IR performance research and rankings, and strengthens further Institutional Investor’s asset management offering. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Extel runs the annual independent survey of quality across the European equities investment community. The Extel Survey began in 1974 and in 2017 over 15,500 investment professionals cast 1.1 million votes across the investment industry, providing a huge dataset to help clients analyse and drive their market understanding.

The acquisition of Extel fits within Euromoney’s strategy of investing in its main themes, specifically asset management. Extel is deeply embedded in the equities investment community and its complementary data sets and highly valued analytics and insights will support the transition of Institutional Investor to a next generation 3.0 business model.

Will Rowlands-Rees, MD of Institutional Investor Research, said: “Although a small business, Extel has a strong reputation in the European market, and is highly complementary to our existing Institutional Investor Research offerings. By integrating these businesses, we will create a unique bulge bracket through domestic broker view of research product evaluation in the European market at a time of tremendous market change driven by MiFID II. I look forward to leveraging our shared expertise and knowledge, and partners in the investment community to build a stronger and broader set of capabilities across our portfolio of products to help with these challenges.”

UK, London

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Blackstone-led consortium agrees partnership with Thomson Reuters for financial & risk business

 

Thomson ReutersFollowing our earlier reporting on talks between Thomson Reuters and private equity firm Blackstone, the transaction has now been agreed on, with Thomson Reuters to sell a 55% majority stake in its F&R business to private equity funds managed by Blackstone. The transaction values the F&R business at approximately $20 billion. Thomson Reuters will receive approximately $17 billion in gross proceeds at closing (subject to purchase price adjustments) funded by $14 billion of debt and preferred equity to be incurred by the partnership and a $3 billion cash equity contribution by Blackstone. Thomson Reuters will retain a 45% interest in the F&R business. Thomson Reuters will also maintain full ownership of its Legal, Tax & Accounting and the Reuters News businesses. Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) and GIC will invest alongside Blackstone for the transaction.

The F&R business provides a broad range of offerings to financial market professionals. Its global content sets include fundamentals, estimates and primary and secondary research. F&R also provides customers with tools, platforms, venues and services to enable fast, intelligent decision-making. The businesses that will comprise the new F&R partnership had 2017 revenues of approximately $6 billion.

At the closing of the proposed transaction, F&R and Reuters News will sign a 30-year agreement for Reuters to supply news and editorial content to the new partnership. Under the agreement, F&R will pay Reuters a minimum of $325 million annually. For the duration of the news contract, Thomson Reuters will grant F&R a license to permit F&R to brand its information feeds and products/services with the “Reuters” mark, subject to applicable limitations and restrictions set forth in a trademark license agreement.

Jim Smith, president and chief executive officer of Thomson Reuters, said, “This deal strengthens F&R and should accelerate its growth and benefit its customers across the sell-side, buy-side and trading venues. Blackstone’s strong relationships in the financial services industry and long and successful history of corporate partnerships will help F&R provide new and innovative products and services, drive further efficiencies and navigate ongoing industry consolidation.”

Canada, Toronto, Ontario & USA, New York, NY

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LDC acquires a significant stake in price comparison service USWITCH.COM

ldc_logoLDC has backed the MBO of uSwitch.com, one of the most recognised brands and established businesses in the UK price comparison market.

LDC has acquired a significant stake in the business with the vendors Forward Internet Group retaining a substantial minority holding. Both investors will align with the existing management team who will also have a minority holding in the business. LDC’s focus will be on supporting the company’s strong management team to deliver on its clear vision and compelling growth strategy.

Founded in 2000, uSwitch.com is a UK-based free, impartial price comparison and switching service. It allows consumers to compare prices for a range of energy, communications and financial services.
Since its acquisition by FIG in 2009, uSwitch.com has significantly accelerated its growth. uSwitch employs 135 permanent staff and last year was ranked the top website by Hitwise, the leading global online competitive intelligence service, in the ‘Business and Finance – Utilities’ category, having been runner up for the previous three years.
The company has grown both organically and through acquisition, with its recent purchase of Top10.com, a popular broadband and mobile phone comparison business.

FIG is a privately held investment company that creates, acquires and invests in web and consumer businesses and has a portfolio of over 25 companies.

Daniel Sasaki, Managing Director of LDC London commented, “Our role is to back British growth companies and we are delighted to help foster the expansion and enhance the performance of uSwitch.com, which has established itself as one of the most well-regarded businesses and strongest brands in the price comparison market. It plays a key role as a consumer champion, giving people the tools to secure the best deals on all their essential utility, internet and financial services products and also contributes to making these areas of the UK economy more efficient, which will help to drive the country’s economic recovery.”

UK, London

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