General Atlantic weighs joining Hg in exploring sale of Argus Media stake – sources

By Amy-Jo Crowley and Emma-Victoria Farr

LONDON(Reuters) – U.S. private equity firm General Atlantic is weighing joining co-shareholder Hg in selling its stake in Argus Media, which could lead to 50% of the oil pricing data business being sold, four people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Private equity group Hg had already been gauging interest from investors including Mubadala, CDPQ, GIC and CPP Investments for its 25% stake in the London-based business, Reuters reported in October.

The two shareholders have since received pitches from investment banks to help them explore strategic options for their stakes, two of the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

If General Atlantic decided to sell its stake, a deal could now garner more interest from investors, the sources said.

A deal could value the company, which assesses global oil prices and provides industry news, at north of 4 billion pounds ($5.08 billion), Reuters previously reported.

Deliberations remain at an early stage and General Atlantic and Hg may decide not to proceed with a transaction, two of the people said. Argus Media, Hg and General Atlantic declined to comment.

The company shareholders’ differing rights over the firm could complicate a potential transaction and dilute its appeal to incoming investors.

Hg bought half of General Atlantic’s 50% stake in Argus in 2019, valuing the business at more than 2 billion pounds then.

CEO Adrian Binks and management own the rest of business, with Binks having special rights, including over how much debt can be put on the business.

Argus competes with rivals such as Fastmarkets, owned by Astorg, and Platts, which is owned by credit rating agency S&P.

The business reported an operating profit before depreciation, amortization and exceptional items of 107 million pounds in the year to June 2022, up from 93 million pounds recorded the year before, according to company filings.

($1 = 0.7879 pounds)

(Reporting by Amy-Jo Crowley in London and Emma-Victoria Farr in Frankfurt; Editing by Mark Porter)