Primark pays pounds 66m for ICV acquisition

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Primark, the US-based financial information company, has agreed to pay $105m (pounds 66m) in cash and shares to acquire ICV, the UK-based supplier of real-time news and share-price information, writes Mathew Horsman.

The deal, announced yesterday, gives Primark a bigger piece of the growing market for UK financial information services, in which it has already staked a significant claim.

The announcement came as Primark and Dow Jones, the world's second-largest supplier of financial information, said they were forming a joint venture to create a real-time financial information service in the UK and Ireland. The new venture will include ICV as well as Primark's other UK businesses.

Primark already owns Datastream, which supplies historical and analytical information, mostly to City analysts and traders. ICV has 9,000 screens in the UK, while Datastream has about 2,500 clients, who receive their services through various delivery methods.

Christopher Sharples and David Taylor, respectively the chairman and chief executive of ICV, will remain with the company following the acquisition, and will take on the corresponding posts at Datastream.

Together, Datastream and ICV had revenues of about pounds 100m last year, according to Primark.

Under the ICV deal, Primark has offered 2.2 million shares of its common stock, which was trading yesterday at $27.63 a share - plus about $37.3m in cash and $8.3m in notes.

Joseph E. Kasputys, Primark's chairman and chief executive, said: "We saw the need for an integrated product, combining historical, analytical and real-time news services. By putting this together, we will get a one- stop shop, something our clients want."

He added that that the financial information market had already seen considerable consolidation, which was set to continue. "Consolidation is happening largely because customers want it," he said. "They want to deal with fewer vendors, with whom they can have global deals. That is the message we have been getting."

Mr Kasputys said the booming equity markets, along with an increase in cross-border buying and selling boded well for the financial information business. He discounted worries that the stock market was poised for a major correction, saying: "We still need the information in bad times."