May 13, 2019 / 1:44 PM / 7 months ago

UPDATE 1-Dealogic owner ION buys controlling stake in data firm Acuris

(Adds deal value, background on deal, company comments, advisers)

May 13 (Reuters) - ION Investment Group, the owner of data provider Dealogic, on Monday bought a controlling stake in financial news and data firm Acuris, known for its Mergermarket and Debtwire brands, for 1.35 billion pounds ($1.76 billion), including debt.

ION will buy the stake in London-based Acuris from BC Partners and Singapore's sovereign wealth fund GIC, making the Irish firm Mergermarket's fourth owner in 13 years.

Big buyout funds struggled to match BC Partners' price expectations and while most investors have walked away, sources told Reuters last month, adding that some funds were allowed to progress in the auction.

Moody's was one of the strongest contenders to win the deal, Reuters reported last month, after credit rating agency Fitch pulled out of the bidding.

Moody's failed to buy Acuris in 2013 when Mergermarket, a former subsidiary of the Financial Times Group, was sold by Pearson to BC Partners for about 380 million pounds.

Acuris, led by Chief Executive Hamilton Matthews, has a sprawling portfolio of financial news outlets and data products. It employs about 1,300 staff and counts big investment banks among its most loyal subscribers.

"When we invested in Acuris in 2014, we saw an opportunity to accelerate its growth and to build a strong franchise, in partnership with Hamilton and the management team," said Nikos Stathopoulos, partner at BC Partners and chairman of Acuris.

Under BC's ownership, Acuris bought a series of news outlets including private equity publication Unquote. In 2017, GIC bought about 30 percent of Acuris.

BC Partners will retain a minority stake of 25 percent in Acuris, while GIC will sell out its stake, Financial Times reported on Sunday, citing people with knowledge of the deal.

UBS Investment Bank was financial adviser to ION, while J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs advised Acuris on the deal. ($1 = 0.7686 pounds)

Reporting by Justin George Varghese in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty

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