The buyer gets bought ( * with an after thought)

25 02 2008

According to a press release of this morning, Getty Image board has agreed to be bought by San Fransisco based private equity firm Hellman and Friedman LLC for $2.4 Billion dollars. That is more than the estimated total size of the stock photo industry as per Getty Image itself . They had, as many others, evaluated it at $2 billion a year.

Shareholders will receive a mere $34 per share and better take it. H&F has investments in DoubleClick, currently being acquired by Google for $3.1 Billion.

Was the previously announced failed purchase of $1.6 billion a ploy to make this one look really appealing ?Probably.

What does this mean to the rest of us ? It wildly depends if the management team stays or not. There is a good chance they will and take the company private. They might abandon their editorial division as it has become overly pricey and bloated with its recent acquisition of Mediavast and it rising cost of operation, especially in international news. They also might divert a lot of resources towards other revenue streams than photography.

What will be very interesting to watch is whether all the contracts and deals Getty has made over the years with Leagues and others will survive. Usually, agreements do not survive an acquisition, thus forcing parties to renegotiate under new terms. In the line are agreements with the Olympics, Soccer leagues, NBA, AFP and many more.

But its only Monday, so we have all week to think about it.

* => Ok, week’s over. Here is our after thought : On August 2, 2007 , Getty Images, Inc. Issues Q3 2007 Outlook Below Analysts’ Estimates. Immediately th stock takes a plunge from which it will never recover. Immediately soon after, master wizard Johnathan Klein moves to New York. These “warning” as issued by the management. What if Getty management had sunk the stock on purpose in order to perform a cheaper management buy out and get itself rid of annoying investors? After all, it was obvious by summer 2007 that the stock would never reach its legendary $90 or more.

And the current $34 a share is much cheaper that the $50 plus it was just a little more than 6 month ago.

With this disguised management buy out, the executive team is now free to pursue long term projects without any scrutiny from neither the public nor the competition.

Very “conspiracy theory”, indeed .


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