New York-based growth equity firm General Atlantic agreed to acquire a majority stake in London-based global energy and commodity price reporting agency Argus, in a deal that values the company at nearly £1 billion ($1.45 billion).
Argus and Platts, a division of S&P (NYSE: SPGI), are recognized as the two most significant price reporting agencies (PRAs) in the global oil market.
Argus was founded by Jan Nasmyth in 1970 as a weekly newsletter covering the Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Antwerp petroleum products market. Jan remained actively involved in the business as chairman, until he died in 2008 at the age of 90.
Employee shareholders were given the opportunity to reinvest, while the family of Argus’ founder will sell their shareholding. “It has been an incredible 46 years, with huge growth in the business,” said the Nasmyth family.
Argus executive chairman and publisher Adrian Binks, who has led the company for more than 30 years, will continue in the business and retain the majority of his significant shareholding in the new structure alongside General Atlantic.
“We are delighted to welcome General Atlantic as our partner as we enter our next phase of growth,” said Binks. “I am especially pleased that so many current employees are being given the opportunity to reinvest in our business going forward. Argus will remain independent, focused on reporting commodities and continuing to bring transparency to opaque and vital markets.”
With more than 750 full-time employees, over 160 publications, 21 offices worldwide, and in excess of 23,000 price assessments, Argus is one of the largest commodity price reporting agencies globally. Argus’ client base extends across 140 countries and includes international oil companies, trading houses, government agencies and financial institutions.
In its next phase of growth, Argus will accelerate product innovation and development and expand coverage globally to meet the growing data and analysis needs of customers. Argus will be supported by General Atlantic’s expertise in the information services and internet and technology sectors.
“We have been following the company for many years and see a clear long-term growth trajectory. Argus’ data are absolutely essential for its customers’ day-to-day operations and the company’s recent technology investments position it well within its market,” said General Atlantic managing director Gabriel Caillaux.
Argus attracted over 60 prospective buyers and investors in the sale process, which was managed by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, according to Reuters. Rival bidders included US buyout fund Hellman & Friedman, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings, the Rothschild Group, and IHS.
General Atlantic has a long track record of partnering with European entrepreneurs and growth companies, having made its first investment in Europe in 1989. Since then, it has invested more than $5 billion in 52 companies across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).
Within information and financial services specifically, General Atlantic’s portfolio includes EMEA companies such as Adyen, Axel Springer, FNZ, Hyperion Insurance Group, Klarna, Markit, MeteoGroup, Network International, Santander Asset Management and Saxo Bank.
Argus and General Atlantic expect to complete the transaction within two months, subject to regulatory approval. John Bernstein and Gabriel Caillaux from General Atlantic will join the Argus board of directors on completion of the transaction.