Quantcast

Shareholders OK sale of Utah's Ancestry.com

Published December 27, 2012 9:31 pm

Deal • Provo operation will be owned by London-based equity firm.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Ancestry.com CEO Tim Sullivan said Thursday he expects almost no changes in the company's operations after shareholders approved the sale of the Provo company to the European private equity firm Permira and other investors.

Ninety-nine percent of total votes cast, representing about 75 percent of the total shares, were in favor of the sale, Ancestry.com said. Voting took place at a hotel in Provo, where the company that sells access to family history databases and other genealogical services is based.

The cash deal was valued at $1.6 billion.

"In terms of operating the business, really nothing is going to change," said Sullivan, who is staying on as CEO, while Howard Hochhauser will remain as chief financial officer. "I think we're really fortunate to be a partner with Permira because they are very much buying into our growth strategy."

Sullivan and Hochhauser committed to exchange, or roll over, up to $82 million of their existing equity in Ancestry.com into a new company created for the transaction. A previous group, Spectrum Equity Investors, had held about 31 percent of outstanding voting shares of Ancestry.com. It agreed to roll over $100 million of its common stock in exchange for common stock of the new company controlled by Permira.

Spectrum invested in Ancestry.com in 2007, two years before the Utah company went public.

In 2011, Ancestry.com reported a 33 percent increase in annual income, to nearly $400 million, with net income up 71 percent, to almost $63 million.

Permira, based in London, agreed to pay $32 a share for the company. Ancestry.com closed trading Thursday at $32 a share, down 2 cents. The shares had a 52-week high of $33.80.

Ancestry.com officially was purchased by Global Generations International Inc., and its subsidiary, Global Generations Merger Sub Inc., which are owned by Permira Advisers LLC.

The Utah company was sued by shareholders after the deal was announced in October. The lawsuits, which are pending, alleged shareholders were being shortchanged and unfairly cashed out of the company.

Ancestry.com bills itself as the world's largest family history website, with more than 2 million subscribers who have created about 39 million family trees and about 4 billion profiles of people. It has made several acquisitions in recent years, the most recent on Aug. 17 when it completed its purchase of Archives.com, another family-history website, from Inflection LLC.

Sullivan said Thursday the company was not expecting more acquisitions unless something unexpected presented itself. Instead, Ancestry.com would continue to add to its databases by digitizing materials and investing in its Web technology that finds and delivers information to users, he said.

tharvey@sltrib.com

Twitter: @TomHarveySltrib