Thomson Reuters chair sought better terms for F&R unit: Reuters

Chairman David Thomson looks on during the Thomson Reuters Corp. annual general meeting for shareholders in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Blinch Reuters

Thomson Reuters Corp Chairman David Thomson urged the company’s board of directors to seek better terms for its US$17 billion sale of a large chunk of its business to U.S. private equity firm Blackstone Group LP, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing people close to the deal.

Blackstone last month agreed to buy a majority stake in Thomson Reuters’ Financial & Risk division, which competes against privately held Bloomberg in providing bankers and investors with news, data and analytics.

Executives with Woodbridge Co Ltd, a private Toronto firm that holds the Thomson family’s majority stake in Thomson Reuters, disagreed with David Thomson and supported the deal, the newspaper said. The Thomson family owns 64 percent of Thomson Reuters through Woodbridge.

Woodbridge CEO David Binet, who is also deputy chairman of Thomson Reuters, could not be reached for comment. A spokesman for Thomson Reuters declined comment.

Thomson eventually voted in favour of the deal, but only after telling other directors he was concerned they had not sought a higher price or considered other potential buyers for the business, according to the newspaper, which did not identify its sources.

Blackstone last summer initiated talks to buy a majority of the Financial & Risk business, a deal strongly supported by Thomson Reuters Chief Executive Jim Smith and directors including Woodbridge’s Binet, according to the newspaper.

Reuters News will remain a unit of Thomson Reuters and provide news to the Financial & Risk business after the deal is completed.

Update: Blackstone will acquire a 55 percent stake in the F&R business in a deal valued at US$20 billion, with Thomson Reuters retaining a 45 percent holding.

Thomson Reuters will receive about US$17 billion, including about US$3 billion in cash and US$14 billion of debt and preferred equity issued by the newly hived-off company.

(Reporting by Jim Finkle in Toronto; Editing by Amran Abocar and Bill Rigby)

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

Photo courtesy of David Thomson courtesy of Reuters/Mark Blinch

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