US private equity firm Blackstone Group LP is in advanced discussions to acquire an approximately 55 percent controlling stake in the financial and risk business of Canadian mass media company Thomson Reuters Corp. for more than $17 billion, or 12 billion pounds, people familiar with knowledge of the matter said.

Thomson Reuters’ F&R unit is its largest unit by revenues, and it provides data, news, and analytics to banks and financial professionals around the globe.

Once Thomson Reuters’ board agreed to the deal, it would mean the biggest overhaul of Thomson Reuters since it was built ten years ago by Thomson Corp.’s buyout of Reuters Group Plc. In 2008, Thomson acquired London-based Reuters for 8.7 billion pounds, worth $17 billion at the exchange rate.

Thomson Reuters would keep a 45 percent stake in the F&R business, under the terms of Blackstone’s deal. This is as part of its partnership with Blackstone, the sources said. The potential head of the newly built company remained unknown.


Reuters, Thomson Reuters’ international news service, would remain along with the company’s legal, tax and accounting businesses. Reuters is said to continue providing news to Eikon, F&R’s flagship desktop product, and also to other products. Other details regarding the arrangement were undetermined.

“As part of any proposed partnership, Thomson Reuters would retain a significant interest in the F&R business and would retain full ownership of its legal, tax & accounting and Reuter News businesses,” Thomson Reuters said.

Canada’s Thomson division manages more than 63 percent of Thomson Reuters shares through Woodbridge Co Ltd. The news and data supplier has a market value of about $31 billion and its shares trade on the New York and Toronto stock exchanges.

The sources warned that a deal had not been completed and could still not lead to a definitive agreement.

The success of Blackstone’s investment would place the acquired firm in direct competition against Bloomberg LP and News Corp’s Dow Jones business in selling data services, analytical, and trading tools to Wall Street.

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