Early Estimates Put RBI Sale at $2B
Apax touted a frontrunner, but observers question timing of going to market.
Less than a week after Reed Elsevier announced plans to divest Reed Business Information, industry observers are already wondering about who RBI’s potential suitors could be, and how much the company could fetch on the market.
On Friday, not long after Reed Elsevier made the announcement about RBI as part of its preliminary financial results statement for 2007, England’s Times newspaper reported that private equity firm Apax Partners may be a potential bidder. Apax owns Incisive Media and recently acquired Emap’s b-to-b group for $2 billion through a partnership with the Guardian Media Group. Apax and Incisive also bought U.S.-based ALM last year for $630 million.
Some, however, are skeptical that Apax would be a serious bidder. “I think it’s pretty hard to imagine,” one media observer tells FOLIO:. “Apax just purchased Emap’s b-to-b group. Overall, considering the state of the credit market, there couldn’t be worse timing for Reed to sell an asset like this. It will be a long process.”
There is no doubt, however, that the buyer will come from private equity, say observers. “RBI isn’t going to go to a company like UBM or Nielsen,” one source says. “Eventually, RBI will sell for about $2 billion. Maybe as high as $2.5 billion.”
Other potential suitors, according to another observer, could include Court Square Ventures (formerly Citigroup Venture Capital), Providence Equity or Bain & Company.
“RBI is a low growth, mature business,” a source says. “They do have nice recurring revenue models but, in a difficult credit market like this, selling the company will be very hard.”