Blackstone in 'advanced talks' to buy $17bn stake in Thomson Reuters unit

The ticker and trading information for Blackstone Group is displayed at the post where it is traded on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange

The unit contributes more than half of Thomson Reuters' annual revenues.

Blackstone Group, the U.S. private equity giant, is in advanced discussions to buy part of Thomson Reuters. The company gave no more details.

Thomson Reuters has confirmed the discussions but has not commented beyond that. Blackstone shares were down just over 1 percent in light volume.

The Thomson Reuters board was due to vote on the proposed deal with Blackstone today.

In its statement, Thomson Reuters and the Thomson Reuters Founders Share Co, which has overseen Reuters' editorial independence since the company was first publicly listed in the 1980s, have agreed to "consequential modifications" to the Trust Principles that guide the news reporting division.

Thomson Reuters would hold on to its global news service, Reuters, along with its Legal and Tax and Accounting divisions.

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As part of the deal, the new F&R group will enter into a 30-year contract for the exclusive rights to distribute Reuters News through all F&R products.

According to reports from Reuters, Blackstone is seeking a 55% stake in the business, which has been in the doldrums since the 2008 crash but is now viewed as an undervalued asset in a market characterised by robust growth and a slew of new data-hungry regulatory measures.

Woodbridge, the investment vehicle of Canada's Thomson family and Thomson Reuters principal shareholder, will participate in the bid/tender offer.

The financial and risk business faces challenges from cost-cutting among clients, including over a trend towards passive investing, weak investment-banking results and the introduction of MiFID II, analysts at Berenberg wrote in a January 18 note.

"The progress we have made turning around the F&R business and its future potential are reflected by Blackstone's interest", Thomson Reuters Chief Executive Jim Smith said in a staff memo. In 2016, it off-loaded its intellectual property and science division to Onex and Baring Private Equity Asia for $3.55bn.



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