May 23, 2016 / 2:47 PM / 2 years ago

UPDATE 1-General Atlantic buys majority stake in Argus Media

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LONDON, May 23 (Reuters) - U.S. investment firm General Atlantic will acquire a majority stake in oil price reporting agency Argus Media in a deal valuing London-based Argus at nearly 1 billion pounds ($1.45 billion).

Argus executive chairman Adrian Binks will continue in the business and retain the “majority of his significant shareholding in the new structure alongside General Atlantic”, Argus said in a statement.

The deal is expected to turn dozens of Argus’ shareholding journalists into millionaires.

Argus, which competes with news and pricing agencies such as Platts and Thomson Reuters, hired Bank of America Merrill Lynch last year to review its strategic options after some investors said they wanted to sell shares.

Argus attracted over 60 potential buyers and investors at the time, including U.S. buyout fund Hellman & Friedman, Singapore’s Temasek, the Rothschild Group, and competitors including IHS.

“We are delighted to welcome General Atlantic as our partner as we enter our next phase of growth,” Binks said.

General Atlantic managing director Gabriel Caillaux said: “Argus is an ideal fit with General Atlantic’s philosophy of supporting entrepreneurs to build global growth businesses.”

Members of the founding Nasmyth family will all sell their shares under the deal, bringing the family’s involvement with Argus to an end.

The family owns over 18 million shares, or half the stock. Binks owns close to 10 million A and B class shares. He is the only shareholder with B shares, which give additional voting rights.

“It has been an incredible 46 years, with huge growth in the business driven by an exceptional team,” the Nasmyth family said in a statement.

The company’s sales grew by 15 percent in the 12 months to June 30 last year to 123 million pounds, and pretax profit rose by around 10 percent to 32.5 million.

The two businesses expect to complete the transaction within two months, subject to regulatory approval. ($1 = 0.6913 pounds) (Reporting by Ahmad Ghaddar; Editing by David Goodman and Keith Weir)

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