Informa's $2.6 bln sale of pharma intelligence lifts shares

Feb 10 (Reuters) - Informa (INF.L) agreed to sell its pharma intelligence business to New York-based investment fund Warburg Pincus for 1.9 billion pounds ($2.58 billion), the British events organiser announced on Thursday, sending shares rising by 7%.

The world's largest exhibition group had made plans in December to divest the entire intelligence unit, which houses brands such as maritime data provider Lloyd's List and clinical trial data provider Citeline, while it focuses on its larger events and academic businesses. read more

Informa flagged that Pharma Intelligence, which provides data on clinical trials, drug treatments and medical devices and accounted for about 40% of its Intelligence unit in 2020, had drawn "significant" interest over the past two months.

Analysts at Peel Hunt said the sale was at "great price", as the remaining businesses could approximately yield a further 700 million pounds, well ahead of the brokerage's 2 billion estimate for the whole division.

Private equity firms have been circling UK-listed companies since last year, a buyout spree that amounted to $45 billion in the first half of 2021, Refinitiv data showed. read more

Informa said it would retain about 15% of Pharma Intelligence after the deal completion, which is expected by early June.

After that, it will start divesting the financial intelligence division, excluding the retail banking joint venture, Curinos.

Shares rose as much as 7% to their highest level since Nov. 2020 as the group said it planned to return a portion of the divestment proceeds to shareholders through a share buyback.

The initial tranche of the buyback programme, which starts immediately and will run through to next June, will be 100 million pounds.

The group also confirmed it expected 2021 earnings in line with forecasts, set at over 1.8 billion pounds for revenues and more than 375 million pounds for adjusted operating profit.

Informa predicted that free cash flow would exceed its previous guidance of above 325 million pounds.

($1 = 0.7378 pounds)

Reporting by Juliette Portala and Yadarisa Shabong; editing by Subhranshu Sahu, Shailesh Kuber, Alexandra Hudson

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