Picture agency Getty Images is poised to change hands in a deal that will value it at more than $4bn (£3bn).
The company is being sold by Hellman & Friedman, the private equity investor which took it private in a $2.4bn deal four years ago. Final bids from private equity groups, including Carlyle and CVC, are thought to have been submitted last week.
Set up in 1995, Getty consolidated the fragmented photography market and carved out a profitable business online when demand from the advertising industry for stock photos slowed. Its archive contains more than 60 million images, including the Hulton collection that dates back to the birth of photography.
Other investors including Getty's co-founder and chairman, Mark Getty, the grandson of the oil tycoon who was once the world's richest man, and chief executive Jonathan Klein, a former investment banker, are expected to roll over their combined 25 per cent stake as part of any deal.