Getty family to regain control of photo agency

(Reuters) - The Getty family said on Tuesday it would acquire Carlyle Group LP's CG.O majority stake in Getty Images Inc, ending ten years of private equity control that contributed to the U.S. photo agency's debt pile swelling.

FILE PHOTO: A general view of the lobby outside of the Carlyle Group offices in Washington, May 3, 2012. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

The deal values Getty at slightly below $3 billion, including debt, less than the $3.3 billion valuation Carlyle placed on the company when it acquired a majority stake six years ago, according to a source familiar with the terms who requested anonymity to discuss them.

The terms of the deal were reported earlier by the Financial Times.

The lower valuation reflects the challenges Getty has faced in competing in an increasingly digital media landscape. Founded in 1995 by Mark Getty and Jonathan Klein, Getty has had to adapt to a shift in the media industry from print to online, where prices for images are lower.

The Getty family will acquire all of Carlyle’s equity interests in Getty Images for cash, the companies said in a statement, without giving financial details. Carlyle’s managing director James Attwood also said in the statement that it would retain “an ongoing financial interest in the company’s future growth.”

The Getty family, which had kept a minority stake in Getty, will pay around $250 million for Carlyle’s equity stake and roll over the company’s roughly $2.35 billion of debt, according to the source.

Carlyle acquired a stake of just over 50 percent in Getty Images in 2012 from Hellman & Friedman LLC, another private equity firm, in a so-called leveraged buyout, whereby a buyout firm saddles a company with debt to juice returns.

Hellman & Friedman had taken Getty Images private in 2008 in a $2.4 billion leveraged buyout. In its last financial quarter as a public company, Getty had debt of only $265 million, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Carlyle made the Getty investment through its $13.7 billion CP V buyout fund, which was launched in 2007 and reported a net internal rate of return of 14 percent as of June 30.

Once the deal closes, Getty Images Chief Executive Officer Dawn Airey will become a non-executive director, while Chief Operating Officer Craig Peters will be named the new CEO, the statement said.

Mark Getty will become chairman, while the interim Chief Financial Officer Rik Powell will become the CFO.

Co-founder and chairman Klein will become deputy chairman and will maintain his equity interest.

Getty competes with Reuters News and the Associated Press in the market for images for editorial use.

Reporting by Joshua Franklin in New York; Additional reporting by Arjun Panchadar and Sayanti Chakraborty in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Rosalba O’Brien