Carlyle Group to buy Getty Images for $3.3 billion

Wed Aug 15, 2012 12:24pm EDT
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By Soyoung Kim and Greg Roumeliotis

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Private equity firm Carlyle Group LP agreed to take over photo agency Getty Images Inc from Hellman & Friedman LLC in a $3.3 billion deal, betting on growing demand for online images as the media industry shifts away from print.

As websites from companies like Facebook Inc and Groupon Inc commission as many images as magazines and television outlets do, Carlyle sees an opportunity to boost the business further globally and through new products.

"We will harness Carlyle's financial resources and global network to help take Getty Images to the next stage of product innovation and global growth," Carlyle Managing Director Eliot Merrill said on Wednesday.

Carlyle will acquire a stake of just over 50 percent in Getty, the largest supplier of stock photos, video and other digital content, while Getty management owns the rest, increasing its stake from just over 30 percent. The deal values Getty at $3.3 billion, including debt.

Reuters reported Tuesday that Carlyle was near an agreement to purchase Getty and could make an announcement as early as Wednesday, citing two sources.

Mark Getty, the co-founder and chairman, and the Getty family will put nearly all their ownership interests into the deal, and co-founder and Chief Executive Jonathan Klein will also invest equity in the company.

Getty, which competes with Reuters News and the Associated Press in the market for images for editorial use, plans to expand further in Asia and Latin America and build on products such as Thinkstock and Connect, Klein told Reuters.

Getty, which for the first time shot images at the Summer Olympic Games in London in 3-D and 360-degree formats using robotic cameras, is changing private equity hands as the media landscape becomes hyper-competitive.   Continued...

A general view of the lobby outside of the Carlyle Group offices in Washington, May 3, 2012. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst