US information and analytics firm IHS Inc is to acquire automotive research specialist R.L. Polk & Co. for $1.4bn. The deal will be funded 10% by equity and the remainder in cash.
Polk is divided into two divisions: vehicle history information service CARFAX, which now provides about 60% of revenue; and Polk, which provides mission-critical market data, analysis and tools for a broad range of automotive areas. Carfax now comprises over 11 billion vehicle records from more than 75,000 data sources across North America, and is expanding operations to key countries in Europe. The company announced in March that is had brought in advisors to explore 'strategic growth opportunities' including a possible sale or IPO, or acquisitions of its own.
With its origins in stats produced for General Motors in the early 1920s, the firm is currently led by Stephen Polk, the grandson of founder Ralph Lane Polk II - Stephen has been CEO since 1994. The company, which generated revenue of $401 million in 2012, employs 425 people in its Detroit HQ and more than 1,250 worldwide, with overseas offices in Canada, England, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Australia, China and Japan.
Stephen Polk says of the sale: 'We're excited about the opportunities this acquisition would offer R.L. Polk clients by supporting solutions and analytics for our more than 30,000 customers worldwide. The IHS global reach would expand the unique and vital role we've played in the auto industry over all these years, helping stakeholders across the value chain - from manufacturers to consumers and a range of service providers in between - to function more intelligently and efficiently.'
IHS President and Chief Executive Officer Scott Key, who took the reins from Jerre Stead last week, says Polk's services and products are 'complementary to existing IHS Automotive solutions and open up large adjacent markets'. The buy also gives his firm, in CARFAX, a high-growth US asset which can be replicated elsewhere in the world as worldwide used car markets grow rapidly, and creates for clients 'a comprehensive capability that will significantly enhance customers' insights and decision processes across the full vehicle lifecycle with analytics from product planning through manufacturing, sales and into automotive aftermarkets.'
IHS, formed in 1959 and headquartered in Englewood, Colorado, has made more than 50 acquisitions since 2007, including Invention Machine and GlobalSpec in July last year, and UK-basedIMS Research and flat panel specialist Displaybank four months earlier. The firm employs more than 6,700 people in 31 countries worldwide.
The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions.
Web sites: www.ihs.com, www.polk.com and www.carfax.com .
All articles 2006-22 written and edited by Mel Crowther and/or Nick Thomas unless otherwise stated.