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Pearson's IDC Sale Set To Move Into Second Round - Sources

By Marietta Cauchi and Jessica Hodgson Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES LONDON -(Dow Jones)- The sale of Interactive Data Corp. (IDC), the U.S.-listed financial data provider majority owned by U.K. publisher Pearson PLC (PSO), is set to move into the second round after several buyers submitted bids over the last week, people familiar with the situation told Dow Jones Newswires on Friday. Bidders for the Bedford, Mass.-based company include buyout firms Hellman & Friedman and Silver Lake Partners, which have teamed up to make a joint bid; Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.; and Permira, people said. Other likely bidders include Bain Capital, Carlyle Group, TPG, Apax Partners, Blackstone Group (BX) and Providence Equity, which may team up for joint bids, the people said. Amid robust interest from private equity firms, one big uncertainty is the question of how interested financial news and data provider Thomson Reuters Corp. (TRI) is in IDC, one person familiar with the process said. Because of its existing operations and expertise, the company could extract greater cost efficiencies from a deal than most private equity partners. But it isn't clear whether the company would face antitrust obstacles and whether it is seriously interested in acquiring IDC. Because its intentions remain unclear, this person said, IDC and its advisers remain uncomfortable about allowing it to progress to the second round, where typically more detailed financial information is made available. If it does bid, Thomson Reuters could likely top the offers from private equity firms, the person said. Thomson Reuters declined to comment. The deadline for first bids has closed and bidders are expected to hear further details of the process next week, people said. Pearson, which publishes the Financial Times, and IDC said Jan. 15 that IDC's board is conducting a "preliminary review of strategic alternatives," for IDC. Goldman Sachs (GS) has been appointed to conduct the review and is offering staple financing, according to people familiar with the matter. Staple finance is typically arranged by the vendor's advising bank in the sale of a business. The winning bidder has the option to accept the loan on offer or make its own financing arrangements. Representatives for IDC and Pearson have previously referred to an earlier statement saying they wouldn't be commenting further on the process. Goldman Sachs wasn't immediately available to comment. Other strategic bidders initially reported to be interested include Standard & Poor's owner McGraw Hill Cos. (MHP) and Bloomberg L.P., although it isn't clear if they have bid. McGraw Hill declined to comment, while Bloomberg couldn't immediately be reached for comment. IDC, which has a market value of approximately $2.9 billion based on recent prices, is widely used by banks, asset managers and securities companies. Pearson acquired its 61% holding in 2000, when FT Interactive Data was merged with Data Broadcasting Corp. Competitors include Factset Research Systems Inc. (FDS) and Thomson Reuters. -By Marietta Cauchi and Jessica Hodgson, Dow Jones Newswires; +44 207 842 9241; [email protected]

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