Some of the largest US and European private equity groups are circling the owner of Mergermarket, the financial information service, which has been put up for sale after being valued at more than £1bn.
Hellman & Friedman and Advent International in the US and Apax Partners and EQT in Europe have expressed interest in Acuris, a subscription-based financial information group, according to people briefed on the talks.
The company, which operates Mergermarket and Debtwire news and data services, was put up for auction by its current private equity owner BC Partners, which has appointed bankers at JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs to run the process.
The buyout funds that have recently expressed an interest in Acuris also circled it when Singapore’s GIC bought a minority stake in the company in 2017, after which its name was changed from Mergermarket.
Rivals to Acuris have also expressed interest in the company, which is known for its coverage of debt market news and mergers and acquisitions. It is considered an attractive asset because its subscription-based model can draw a steady flow of fees from its 190,000 subscribers.
All the private equity groups declined to comment. People following the process warned that it was still early days in the auction and a sale was not guaranteed.
Bought by BC Partners for £382m just over five years ago from Pearson — the former owner of the Financial Times — Acuris now employs more than 1,300 people and has offices in about 70 locations across US, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
Acuris has expanded through the purchase of similar businesses to broaden its offering. It is expected to fetch more than £1bn, a valuation placed on it when GIC bought its stake. That is higher than the £844m that Nikkei, Japan’s largest newspaper company, paid Pearson for the FT in 2015.
The sale to GIC of a minority stake in Acuris delivered London-based BC Partners a return of more than twice its original investment.
Under BC Partners’ ownership, the business has doubled its earnings before interest, tax, amortisation and depreciation, a person with direct knowledge of the business said.
A potential sale of the company, which was founded in 2000, would be the latest large buyout of a subscription-based data company.
Last year, New York-based buyout Blackstone bought a majority stake in Thomson Reuters’ financial and risk unit in a roughly $20bn deal — the largest private equity transaction in more than a decade.
General Atlantic, another private equity group, acquired Argus media, an oil price reporting outlet in a roughly £1bn transaction in 2016.
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