Kroll detective agency is sold for $1.1bn

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Kroll, the corporate detective agency, is being sold by its owner, the US firm Marsh & McLennan, to a private equity backed rival for $1.13bn (£779m).

The company rose to prominence in the 1980s digging up dirt on corporate raiders on behalf of companies fighting a hostile takeover, and is famed for helping to uncover the hidden assets of dictators including Saddam Hussein.

The deal brings Kroll under the wing of Altegrity, a security company run by the former Kroll chief executive Mike Cherkasky. Altegrity is owned by Providence Equity Partners. "Our clients look to Altegrity for information and insight to make smarter decisions," said Mr Cherkasky. "The combination with Kroll broadens our capabilities with the addition of a portfolio of industry-leading services to help clients identify and manage risk."

Jules Kroll, a New York lawyer and corporate detective, founded his namesake company in 1972, and it has expanded to become a global empire with 3,000 employees working in 27 countries doing background checks, forensic accounting, data recovery and risk assessments on behalf of governments, financial firms and companies. Mr Kroll left the firm in 2004 after selling it to Marsh for $1.9bn.

Altegrity has been assembled by Providence by bolting together a string of acquisitions, and Julie Richardson, a managing director at the private equity firm, called the acquisition of Kroll "the capstone to that effort". The combined firm will have 11,000 employees in total.