Industry News & Trends

IHS to buy Carfax owner R.L. Polk

If only you had $1.4 billion – you could have put this in your pocket…

June 9, 2013 – 9:38 pm ET — UPDATED: 6/10/13 9:35 am ET – adds terms of the deal

NEW YORK — IHS Inc. said Sunday that it struck a deal to buy privately held R.L. Polk & Co., the owner of used-car history provider Carfax and a leading provider of auto industry data, in a deal valued at $1.4 billion.

IHS, in a statement today, said the acquisition would be funded with 10 percent equity, cash on hand, and various bank loans. The deal remains subject to the usual closing conditions and anti-trust clearance from government regulators.

“The acquisition of R.L. Polk brings extensive and complementary information and analytical solutions that would establish IHS as a vital strategic partner of the global automotive value chain,” IHS CEO Scott Key said in the statement.

“R.L. Polk has a long history of providing critical information to the automotive industry,” he said. “The combination with IHS Automotive creates a comprehensive capability that will significantly enhance customers’ insights and decision processes across the full vehicle lifecycle with analytics from product planning through manufacturing, sales and into automotive aftermarkets.”

Besides its ownership of Carfax, Polk is known in the industry for its vehicle registration data, sales forecasts, and tracking of owner loyalty.

R.L. Polk — which has been family-owned for more than 140 years — said in March that it was exploring its options, including a sale of the company.

At the time, Polk said it engaged Evercore Partners, a New York investment banking firm, to handle the review.

“There is no defined timeline for this process,” Polk said in a statement on March 7.

IHS calls itself a “global information company” and owns businesses including defense publication Jane’s, energy research firm CERA and economics firm Global Insight.

Long history

In the early 1920s, General Motors President Alfred P. Sloan asked Ralph Lane Polk II to impartially tabulate and publish automotive statistics, according to Polk’s Web site. Polk soon took on the role of an “automotive information and solutions provider” when it published the first Passenger Car Registration Report covering 58 makes and accounting for 9.2 million passenger vehicles, the Web site said.

Stephen Polk, the grandson of Ralph Polk II, has been CEO since 1994.

Polk generated revenue of $359 million in 2011, the latest year in which information was available. It employs 425 people at its suburban Detroit headquarters and 1,268 worldwide.

Polk has offices in Long Beach, Calif.; Woodcliff, N.J.; Centreville, Pa.; Canada; England; France; Germany; Spain; Italy; Australia; China; and Japan.

Vince Bond Jr. of Automotive News and Reuters contributed to this report.

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