Photographer: John Taggart/Bloomberg

J.D. Power Seeks a CEO to Lead a Potential Public Offering

  • XIO Group bought survey company for $1.1 billion last year
  • National Appraisal Guides deal boosts consumer-facing presence

J.D. Power is searching for a new chief executive officer to lead a potential stock offering as soon as next year, parent XIO Group said.

Finbarr O’Neill, who led U.S. units for Hyundai Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. before joining J.D. Power a decade ago, will retire in March, he said in a phone interview. He’s led an expansion by the company known for automotive quality studies and boosted profitability to a record, according to XIO Group, the private equity group that bought it from McGraw Hill last year for $1.1 billion.

J.D. Power’s next CEO will lead a company that’s more consumer-facing following its recent acquisition of National Appraisal Guides, which offer pricing data for cars, motorcycles, recreational vehicles and boats. While its parent typically operates companies for about five years before exiting an investment, J.D. Power could hold an initial public offering in just another year or two, according to Joseph Pacini, XIO Group’s CEO.

“If we look at where J.D. Power is going, this is a naturally made IPO candidate,” Pacini said by phone. “It’s a brand that is already well known -- it is one of the most recognizable brands in the U.S. It’s considered an independent voice of consumer data and analytics that is utilized by the blue-chip names when they’re developing new products.”

O’Neill, 65, will act as a senior adviser after leaving J.D. Power to ensure a smooth leadership transition. The company started almost 50 years ago surveying car buyers and sharing their feedback with automakers. Consumers are familiar with the name thanks in part to the money automakers spend promoting their awards for initial quality and other studies.

Executive-recruiting firm Egon Zehnder is leading the search for O’Neill’s replacement.

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