Thomson Reuters may sell IP & science unit in parts-sources

Fri Mar 4, 2016 1:14pm EST
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By Liana B. Baker and Pamela Barbaglia

NEW YORK/LONDON March 4 (Reuters) - Thomson Reuters Corp is open to selling its intellectual property and science business in two or three parts to facilitate a divesture that could raise more than $3 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.

The news and data provider said in November it was exploring strategic options for the unit, which in 2015 generated $1 billion in revenue and adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization of $313 million.

While Thomson Reuters would prefer to sell the division as a whole, it is evaluating whether to split it into three: scientific and scholarly research, life sciences, and intellectual property, according to the people familiar with the matter. The company may also decide to keep the science division together and sell the intellectual property business separately, they said.

Thomson Reuters will launch an auction later this month and will wait for offers to come in before deciding which option is best, said the sources, who asked not to be identified because details of the sale process are confidential.

Andrew Green, a Thomson Reuters spokesman, declined to comment. Thomson Reuters is the parent company of Reuters News.

The IP & science business provides intellectual property, scientific information and associated tools and services to governments, universities and companies. It has around 3,200 employees.

Analysts and industry sources have estimated that the IP & science business could be valued at more than $3 billion. They said parts of the unit, or the whole, could appeal to private equity firms, as well as strategic buyers such as Springer Nature, a privately held information research and education services company. A Springer Nature spokeswoman declined to comment.

Thomson Reuters Chief Executive Jim Smith said in February that proceeds from the IP & science unit may be used to buy back shares and that he has no plans for major acquisitions in 2016. The division contributed about 8 percent of Thomson Reuters' total revenue of $12.2 billion in 2015. (Additional reporting by Arno Schuetze in Frankfurt and Jessica Toonkel in New York; Editing by Tiffany Wu)