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June 13, 2024
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Argus Media head becomes majority owner as Hg sells stake

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London-based Argus Media has been valued at $4.6bn including debt after a deal that will see its chief executive take a majority stake in the energy and commodity data provider.

Adrian Binks, who has led Argus since 1984, will become the majority owner of the company while existing investor General Atlantic will end up with a “large minority” stake, according to a statement on Monday.

Binks and General Atlantic are both acquiring the shares from Hg, which is selling its full stake. Hg bought its share in Argus in 2020 from General Atlantic, which first invested in the company in 2016 in a deal valuing the business at about £1bn including debt.

The latest deal will give Argus an enterprise value of roughly $4.6bn, according to two people familiar with the matter. The company did not publicly disclose financial terms of the deal or comment on the valuation.

Argus, which started life as a weekly newsletter in the 1970s, said it had more than doubled in size since General Atlantic first invested in the business and increased revenue by 17 per cent in 2023, year on year. It flagged “particularly strong momentum in energy transition products”, which grew 46 per cent.

Financial data providers have attracted billions of dollars from investors in recent years, with backers drawn to their typically predictable subscription-based revenues. Last year private equity group Francisco Partners agreed to buy financial data provider Macrobond for almost €700mn, while in 2022 Permira gained control of Reorg in a deal that valued the distressed debt and bankruptcy information provider at about $1.3bn.

The transition towards cleaner energy sources has also created a potential increase in demand for accurate pricing data on commodities.

“Argus serves its customers around the world by navigating the challenges presented by the move to a sustainable future, which involves both traditional hydrocarbon and energy transition commodities,” said Binks in a statement. “Our mission to bring transparency to these markets remains unchanged.”

Argus provides more than 11,000 customers with news and price information on energy and commodity markets. It was founded in the 1970s by Jan Nasmyth, a former Treasury official and British Army officer, as a weekly newsletter called Europe-Oil Prices covering European petroleum products. Argus subsequently grew by acquiring other companies and counts Platts, part of credit rating company S&P, among its competitors.

General Atlantic had previously explored selling part of its stake in Argus, but talks about a potential deal that would have valued the business at £2bn collapsed in 2019.

On Monday Hg Capital Trust, an investment company managed by Hg, said the new transaction valued its own stake in Argus at about £52mn.

This article has been amended since initial publication to clarify that Hg Capital Trust’s investment in Argus Media was valued at about £52mn, not Hg’s overall investment.

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