Board to meet on Tuesday to discuss bid by private equity group for 55% of financial and risk arm of corporation
US private equity firm Blackstone Group LP is in advanced talks to buy an approximate 55% stake in the financial and risk business of Thomson Reuters Corp for more than $17bn (£12bn), three sources familiar with the matter said on Monday.
Thomson Reuters’ board, the sources said, is expected to meet on Tuesday to discuss Blackstone’s all-cash offer for the F&R business, which supplies news, data and analytics to banks and investment houses around the world. The unit contributes more than half of Thomson Reuters’ annual revenues.
Thomson Reuters said in a statement late on Monday “it is in advanced discussions with Blackstone regarding a potential partnership in its F&R business”. The company gave no more details. A spokeswoman for Blackstone declined to comment.
If the board agrees to a deal, it would represent the biggest shake-up of Thomson Reuters since it was formed a decade ago by Thomson Corp’s acquisition of Reuters Group Plc. Canada’s Thomson bought London-based Reuters for £8.7bn in 2008, worth $17bn at the exchange rate at the time.
Under the terms of the Blackstone offer, Thomson Reuters would retain a 45% stake in the F&R business as part of a partnership with the US buyout firm, according to the sources. Reuters was unable to determine who would lead the newly formed company.
Thomson Reuters would keep its international news service, Reuters, along with its legal and tax and accounting divisions. Reuters is expected to continue to supply news to F&R’s flagship desktop product, Eikon, as well as to other products, though the details of the arrangement could not be determined.
The sources cautioned that a deal had not been finalised and could still fall apart. They declined to be identified because the negotiations are confidential.
It is unclear how the proposed deal would be viewed by trustees of the Thomson Reuters Founders Share Co, which was set up to oversee Reuters’ editorial independence when the company was first publicly listed in the 1980s.
The trustees approved Thomson’s deal for Reuters a decade ago. Thomson Reuters Founders Share Co’s chairman, Kim Williams, did not respond to requests for comment.
Blackstone’s investment, if finalised, will put the buyout firm in direct competition with Bloomberg LP as well as News Corp’s Dow Jones division in selling data services, analytical and trading tools to Wall Street.
Blackstone has some experience in the information business. It bought Ipreo, which sells specialist software for tracking capital markets’ activities in 2014 for just under $1bn.
Canada’s Thomson family controls more than 63% of Thomson Reuters shares through Woodbridge Co Ltd. The news and data provider has a market value of about $31bn and its shares trade on the New York and Toronto stock exchanges.