U.S. Sues to Halt Cision-PR Newswire Deal Pending Unit Sale

  • Merger of media data companies would create duopoly, U.S. says
  • Agility database software business to be sold to Innodata

The U.S. Justice Department sued to block the $841 million merger of media database companies Cision and PR Newswire, pending the sale of a software unit to preserve competition.

The companies agreed to put their tie-up on hold pending the sale of PRN’s Agility database business to Hackensack, New Jersey-based Innodata Inc., or another government-approved buyer, according to a proposed settlement filed in federal court Friday. That settlement still requires approval by a judge. The planned sale of Agility was announced last month.

UBM Plc, the London-based event and marketing services provider, agreed to sell PRN to Chicago-based private equity firm GTCR LLC in December. Without a divestiture to preserve competition in the market for media contact management, the purchase of the third-biggest U.S. media database business by its No. 1 rival would create a duopoly that would drive up prices and hurt service, the Justice Department said in a statement Friday.

“Businesses, non-profits and other organizations rely on media contact databases to identify journalists and other influencers for public relations purposes,” the statement said. Cision’s acquisition of PR Newswire “would eliminate one of two meaningful competitors to Cision,” according to the U.S. complaint.

GTCR’s acquisition of PR Newswire is still being reviewed by the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority, the Justice Department said.

PR Newswire and Cision declined to comment on the antitrust suit and settlement terms. Cision had $227 million in revenue last year, according to the government, while PRN garnered $209 million.

The case is U.S. v. GTCR Fund X/A AIV LP, 16-cv-1091, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

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