Getty Images, the mega stock photo site, has been sold for $3.3 billion to the Carlyle Group, the Getty family and key management figures.
The Carlyle Group will partner with the photo conglomerate’s co-founders Mark Getty and Jonathan Klein and the Getty family to acquire the business from private equity firm Hellman & Friedman. 50 percent of the stake will go to the private equity group, 30 percent to the Getty’s, and the remainder to management. The deal increases the Getty family’s share in the company from its current stake of a third, and is expected to close later in the year.
“Getty Images consistently demonstrates growth, leadership and prominence as one of the world’s leading media companies. This partnership with The Carlyle Group reflects and bolsters our ongoing strategy, strong management team and the talent of our dedicated employees,” said Jonathan Klein, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Getty Images.
Hellman & Friedman purchased the company in 2008 for $2.4 billion at a time the photo business was struggling to adjust to the industry’s transformation to digital media. The 17 year old company made a difficult evolution from print-based sources to online and mobile mediums. Getty has managed to increase its online presence with innovative technology solutions. The company used robotic cameras to shoot 3D content in 360 degree formats at London’s Summer Olympic Games for the first time. Today, the company has 1.3 million customers per year, gaining an additional 100,000 per quarter.
Hellman & Friedman managed a gross profit of $900 million from its four year ownership of the company.
“Our partnership exceeded our expectations, and has resulted in an outstanding investment for Hellman & Friedman,” stated Andy Ballard, Managing Director, Hellman & Friedman.
The private equity market has slowed recently, mostly due to economic uncertainty against the European financial crisis and increasing worries over another US recession. Caryle itself posted a $57 million loss in the second quarter due to slow investment growth, according??? to the New York Times. Yet the private equity firm remains confident of the economic opportunities that can be found in a contracting market.
“Great investments can be made in a bad economy and lousy investments can be made in a vibrant economy,” William Conway, co-chief executive at Carlyle, told the New York Times. “Notwithstanding weaker global economic conditions, we see good investing opportunities across our platform.”
The firm remains confident of its latest acquisition.
“Getty Images is the premier, digital global marketplace for commercial visual content,” said Eliot Merrill, Managing Director of The Carlyle Group. “…We will harness Carlyle’s financial resources and global network to help take Getty Images to the next stage of product innovation and global growth.”