Probable bidders for Interactive Data Corporation are strengthening their teams before an expected late-April deadline for second-round bids for the Pearson-controlled financial data group.
Warburg Pincus has joined a consortium with Hellman & Friedman and Silver Lake Partners, according to several people familiar with the bidding, while a team comprising Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and CVC has hired Stuart Clark, former IDC chief executive, as an adviser.
Competition for the asset has driven IDC’s shares gradually upwards since Pearson’s announcement in January of a strategic review at IDC. Pearson controls about 62 per cent of IDC and also owns the Financial Times, Penguin and education businesses around the world.
IDC’s shares closed at $32.43 on Friday, valuing its equity at $3.06bn (£1.99bn). Several banks have told auction participants they would lend debt packages of six to 6.5 times earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation, but bidders would still need to commit about $1bn of equity.
Advent International and Bain Capital have formed the third private equity team bidding. However, people familiar with the auction said the biggest uncertainty was over the intentions of McGraw-Hill, the sole strategic bidder in the second round. Buying IDC could allow McGraw-Hill to develop its Capital IQ research and analysis business into a larger information business alongside its Standard & Poor’s rating agency. Analysts believe it would have little trouble funding a competitive offer but say it has no record of dealmaking on this scale.
Mr Clark is among several senior executives from the financial information industry to have been courted by bidders for IDC. He spent four decades in the industry, including nine as chief executive of IDC, before handing over the reins to Ray D’Arcy last year. He is understood to have no ambition for an executive role should KKR’s offer prevail.
Goldman Sachs, which is conducting the IDC strategic review, advised private equity firms to team up as a way of whittling down the number of financial sponsors who expressed interest in the auction’s first round.
Analysts remain unclear on what proceeds Pearson might expect from an IDC sale after tax, but say they could be used for acquisitions, notably of consumer-focused, technology-focused or international education assets.
Pearson this week announced plans to sponsor TechHub, a networking centre in east London for digital start-ups.
Pearson declined to comment.
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