November 28, 2018 / 5:37 PM / 16 days ago

BC Partners gears up to sell financial media firm Acuris: sources

LONDON/FRANKFURT (Reuters) - European buyout fund BC Partners is preparing to sell its financial news and data business Acuris in a deal that could be worth more than 1 billion pounds, three sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

The company, formerly known as Mergermarket, was part of The Financial Times Group until 2013 when it was sold to BC Partners.

Its portfolio of financial news products has grown fast in recent years through a series of add-on acquisitions including the purchase of private equity-focused publication Unquote from Incisive Media.

The sources said BC Partners was looking to start an auction process early next year and was working closely with the management team to prepare the financial documentation for potential bidders.

The sale could draw interest from other buyout funds as well as some industry players.

A spokeswoman for BC Partners declined to comment.

BC Partners has previously reviewed options to cash out from Acuris.

Last year, it sold about 30 percent of the London-based firm to Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC.

The deal valued Acuris at about 1 billion pounds ($1.28 billion) and came after efforts to find a buyer who was willing to take on the whole company for the same valuation were fruitless.

Since then Acuris has increased its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) almost 20 percent, two of the sources said, and expects core earnings of roughly $100 million this year, up from about $85 million in 2017.

The business, led by Chief Executive Hamilton Matthews, is well known by investment bankers for its debt-focused news and data platform Debtwire.

Acuris employs about 1,300 staff, including 600 specialist journalists and analysts in 67 locations around the world, according to its website. Its publications and data research are focused on six financial areas including infrastructure investments and fixed income.

BC Partners’ plans to sell Acuris follow a number of transactions in the financial data industry involving heavyweight investors.

Private equity funds are typically attracted by subscription-based data companies that generate recurrent revenues from big financial institutions.

In October, U.S. buyout fund Blackstone (BX.N) finalised a deal to buy 55 percent of Thomson Reuters Corp’s Financial and Risk business for about $20 billion.

Other recent deals include the 2016 purchase by General Atlantic of oil price reporting agency Argus Media for nearly 1 billion pounds.

($1 = 0.7815 pounds)

(This story was refiled to fix grammatical error in 13th paragraph)

Reporting By Pamela Barbaglia. Editing by Jane Merriman

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