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€3bn sale of Bureau van Dijk to Moody’s: a closer look

Credit ratings agency Moody’s Corp will buy financial information provider Bureau van Dijk for €3 billion (about $3.3 bn). Founded in 1991 in Brussels (and currently headquartered in Amsterdam), Bureau van Dijk (BvD) aggregates and sells financial and other information, and has been profitable from the start.

The majority-seller is EQT Private Equity, which is estimated to make a return of about 45% anually (IRR) and a multiple of 2.8x on their original investment. BvD has also undergone four (!) leveraged buyouts, respectively by Candover Partners (in 2004), BC Partners (2007), Charterhouse (2011), EQT Private Equity (2014).

The valuation implies an 2016 EBITDA multiple of 22.7x (based on reported 2016 EBITDA of €132m) and an estimated 2017 EV/EBITDA of 20.7x (EBITDA of €145m based on 10% estimated annual growth). This multiple seems high for a single-digit growth company, but Moody’s is anticipating large synergies, reducing the pro-forma multiple closer to around 15x, which is in line with previous similar transactions. Moody’s said it will fund the deal through a combination of offshore cash and new debt financing.

The BvD database covers about 220 million companies (data somewhat similar to DueDil). BvD has in the meantime diversified its data offering by adding M&A data and intelligence, as well as news stories on deals and rumours (similar to MergerMarket). The majority of its 800 employees focus on sales, marketing and customer support in 30 offices around the globe. BvD is well known by most who have ever worked as analyst or researcher at a large firm, in a world where comprehensive private company information is scarce.