Thomson Reuters to sell IP & science unit for $3.55 billion

The logo of Thomson Reuters is pictured at the entrance of its Paris headquarters, France, March 7, 2016. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo

(Reuters) - Thomson Reuters Corp TRI.TO on Monday said it agreed to sell its intellectual property and science business to private equity firms Onex Corp OCX.TO and Baring Private Equity Asia for $3.55 billion in cash.

The business, which has 3,200 employees, provides intellectual property and scientific information and associated tools and services to governments, universities and companies.

“This divestiture marks an important step in sharpening our focus on the intersection of global commerce and regulation,” wrote Chief Executive Officer Jim Smith, in an e-mail to employees Monday morning. “We expect to use the proceeds from the transaction to buy back shares and the balance to pay down debt and reinvest in the business.”

The news and data provider said in November it was exploring strategic options for the unit, which had revenue of about $1 billion in 2014.

Analysts have estimated that the business would be valued at more than $3 billion, or more than 10 times EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization).

The division contributed about 8 percent of Thomson Reuters’ total revenue of $12.2 billion in 2015.

Reuters had earlier reported that the company was discussing selling the units in parts to facilitate a divestiture that could raise more than $3 billion.

Thomson Reuters is the parent company of Reuters News.

Guggenheim Securities and J.P. Morgan Securities were financial advisers to Thomson Reuters. Allen & Overy LLP was legal counsel.

Reporting by Arathy S Nair and Narottam Medhora in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Nick Zieminski