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Partners Group nears deal to buy data analytics firm IRI: Reuters

(Reuters) – Investment firm Partners Group Holding AG (PGHN.S) is nearing a deal to acquire data analytics company Information Resources Inc (IRI) from New Mountain Capital for over $2 billion, including debt, according to people familiar with the matter.

The deal highlights the appetite among investment firms for companies that sift through reams of data to help guide the advertising and marketing decisions of client firms.

An agreement could be announced before the end of the month, the sources said, though there is always the possibility that talks could stall at the last minute. The sources asked not to be identified because the matter is confidential.

Buyout firm New Mountain, Partners Group and IRI did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

IRI collects and integrates data collected from consumer purchases, social media posts, media and more and then uses predictive analytics to help uncover insights into consumer behavior.

It serves clients in industries including consumer packaged goods, retail, healthcare and media. New Mountain Capital acquired a majority stake in IRI in 2011.

The technology sector has seen a wave of deals in recent months in data and analytics, including Interpublic Group of Companies Inc’s (IPG.N) $2.3 billion acquisition of Acxiom Corp’s (ACXM.O) marketing solutions business, AT&T Inc’s (T.N) acquisition of AppNexus and Oracle Corp’s (ORCL.N) acquisition of Moat.

A greater emphasis by politicians and regulators in the United States on data privacy could make it more difficult for analytics firms to collect certain types of data, such as data from social media accounts.

Social media platform Facebook Inc (FB.O), for example, made efforts to tighten third-party access to data after it was questioned by the U.S. Congress about whether its privacy protections were too lax. The European Union recently enacted tough new data privacy rules.

Partners Group is an investment manager with more than $78 billion in assets under management. It invests in private equity, debt, real estate and infrastructure.

New Mountain Capital invests in private and public equity as well as credit and has around $20 billion of assets under management.