Reed Elsevier Sells Screening Unit to Symphony Technology

Reed Elsevier Plc agreed to sell the screening division of its LexisNexis risk solutions business to private equity firm Symphony Technology Group as it focuses on businesses with more predictable earnings.

Symphony plans to join the screening unit with its portfolio company, First Advantage, London-based Reed Elsevier said in a statement today. The division being sold is used to screen and check people for employment and has about 1,000 employees and revenue of about $180 million, said a person with knowledge of the matter who asked not to be identified because the details haven’t been publicly disclosed.

The screening unit depends on U.S. hiring patterns and its business is more cyclical than other parts of LexisNexis risk solutions, said the person. London-based Reed Elsevier has been disposing of businesses to focus on electronic data services and research offerings.

Reed sold its Australian media business last week to private equity firm Catalyst Investment Managers Pty and in October it sold entertainment trade magazine Variety to Internet entrepreneur Jay Penske.

Reed shares rose 1 percent to 675.50 pence at 2:14 p.m. in London trading, extending the gain to 29 percent in 12 months.

LexisNexis risk solutions had sales of 908 million pounds ($1.45 billion) in 2011. Underlying revenue rose 6 percent in the first nine months of 2012, Reed said.

Symphony, based in Palo Alto, California, is focused on software and services and has about $2.5 billion in annual revenue.

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