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Onex, Baring to buy Thomson Reuters’ IP-science unit for $3.55 bln: Reuters

Thomson Reuters Corp (TRI.TO) said it agreed to sell its intellectual property and science business to private equity firms Onex Corp (OCX.TO) and Baring Private Equity Asia for US$3.55 billion in cash.

The business, which has 3,200 employees, provides intellectual property and scientific information and associated tools and services to governments, universities and companies.

“This divestiture marks an important step in sharpening our focus on the intersection of global commerce and regulation,” wrote Chief Executive Officer Jim Smith, in an e-mail to employees Monday morning. “We expect to use the proceeds from the transaction to buy back shares and the balance to pay down debt and reinvest in the business.”

The news and data provider said in November it was exploring strategic options for the unit, which had revenue of about US$1 billion in 2014.

Analysts have estimated that the business would be valued at more than US$3 billion, or more than 10 times EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization).

The division contributed about 8 percent of Thomson Reuters’ total revenue of US$12.2 billion in 2015.

Reuters had earlier reported that the company was discussing selling the units in parts to facilitate a divestiture that could raise more than US$3 billion.

Thomson Reuters is the parent company of Reuters News.

Guggenheim Securities and J.P. Morgan Securities were financial advisers to Thomson Reuters. Allen & Overy LLP was legal counsel.

Update: In a statement Toronto-based Onex said the deal is expected to be funded with an equity investment of about US$1.6 billion. Onex’ portion of the investment (about US$1.2 billion) will be made by Onex Partners IV, which raised US$5.7 billion in May 2014, and certain co-investors.

Latham & Watkins LLP is serving as legal advisor to Onex and Baring Asia on the deal.

By Jessica Toonkel

(Reporting by Arathy S Nair and Narottam Medhora in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Nick Zieminski)

(This story has been edited by Kirk Falconer, editor of PE Hub Canada)

Photo courtesy of Reuters/Charles Platiau