Anyone in any doubt of the value of data and analytics need look no further than Dun & Bradstreet, a firm that can trace its roots back nearly 180 years, which is seeking to raise as much as $1.4bn (£1.13bn) in a US initial public offering, valuing the business at $8.4bn (£6.8bn).
Having first floated on the New York Stock Exchange in the late 1800s, the business went private in 2018 after being acquired by a private equity group led by CC Capital, Cannae and funds affiliated with Thomas H Lee Partners in a $5.38bn (£4.7bn) deal.
D&B said it plans to use the cash raised through the IPO to pay down a portion of its unsecured debt due in 2027, fulfill a so-called “anti-dilution rights payment” to pay back its private equity investors as well as for general working capital. It will sell 65.75 million shares for $19 to $21 each.
Cannae, Black Knight and CC Capital Partners have already committed to investing a combined $400m (£322m) in a concurrent share placement, according to the filing with the US Securities & Exchange Commission, which also shows that for the three months ended March 31, the business earned $41.5m (£33.4m) on revenue of $395m (£318m).
Goldman Sachs Group and Bank of America are leading the offering, along with JPMorgan Chase & Co and Barclays.
D&B’s history dates back to July 20, 1841, when Lewis Tappan launched The Mercantile Agency in New York City to provide reliable and objective credit information. As an advocate for civil rights, Tappan used his abolitionist connections to expand and update the company’s credit information.
Despite of accusations of invading personal privacy – even back then – by 1844 the Mercantile Agency had over 280 clients and by 1859 the company was to transferred to Robert Dun, who immediately changed the firm’s name to RG Dun & Co.
RG Dun then expanded overseas, opening offices in London, Glasgow, Paris, Melbourne, Mexico City, and Hamburg in the late 1800s. By 1928, RG Dun had opened 41 overseas branches, across Europe, South Africa, and Latin America.
In 1933, Dun merged with competitor John M Bradstreet to form Dun & Bradstreet and over the years it has bought and sold scores of businesses, including RH Donnelley, Gartner Group and Nielsen.
These days, D&B says its database contains comprehensive information on more than 360 million businesses and it has 135,000 clients, including 90% of the Fortune 500. The $8.4bn valuation puts it way ahead of Kantar ($4bn), Epsilon ($4.4bn) and Acxiom ($2.3bn), which have all been acquired either in part or wholesale over the past two years.
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