IHS Inc. to acquire R.L. Polk & Co. for $1.4 billion

R.L. Polk & Co. holdings include Carfax.


IHS Inc., a source of critical information and analytics, has signed a definitive agreement to acquire R.L. Polk & Co., a recognized leader in providing automotive information and analytics solutions. The $1.4 billion transaction will be funded with 10 percent equity and the remainder with cash on hand, cash from an existing revolver and a new bank term loan. The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions, including expiration or termination of the applicable waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976.

“The acquisition of R.L. Polk brings extensive and complementary information and analytical solutions that would establish IHS as a vital strategic partner of the global automotive value chain,” said IHS President and Chief Executive Officer Scott Key. “R.L. Polk has a long history of providing critical information to the automotive industry,” he said. “The combination with IHS Automotive creates a comprehensive capability that will significantly enhance customers’ insights and decision processes across the full vehicle lifecycle with analytics from product planning through manufacturing, sales and into automotive aftermarkets.”

R.L. Polk consists of two divisions – Polk and CARFAX – that provide actionable market intelligence, powerful tools and analytics and extensive vehicle history data. For nearly a century, the company has synthesized the fragmented big data “exhaust” of the automotive industry into meaningful, insightful, reliable and intuitive offerings to stakeholders across the value chain:

  • Polk provides mission-critical market data, analysis and tools for the entire automotive ecosystem. This division enables automotive business customers to improve, predict, analyze and measure performance.
  • CARFAX provides consumers and automotive dealers with vehicle history information to enhance used vehicle purchase and sales decisions. This division is the primary source of vehicle history information for cars operating in the U.S. and Canada.

The products and services offered by R.L. Polk, Key said, are “complementary to existing IHS Automotive solutions and open up large adjacent markets.” The acquisition, he said, would also provide IHS with a high-growth U.S. asset, CARFAX, that can be replicated in other geographies to take advantage of the expected high growth in worldwide used car markets.

“The continued growth and transformation of the automotive industry through the next decade, led by global growth in light vehicle demand, technological changes and the transformation of the OEM supply chain, will fuel strong growth in demand for data, research and analytics to support investment decisions,” Key said. “IHS has successfully acquired and integrated more than 50 acquisitions since 2007. We look forward to combining R.L. Polk’s market-leading information with IHS Automotive’s industry-leading forecasts and insights to create new efficiencies for customers and reduce decision times.”

IHS Chief Financial and IT Officer Todd Hyatt said R.L. Polk brings to IHS an attractive financial profile and accretive growth trajectory. “R.L. Polk is a significant, scaled asset with approximately $400 million in annual revenues, growing at mid to high single digits,” Hyatt said. “Approximately 75 percent of its overall revenue is recurring in nature, with approximately 90 percent renewal rates, attractive margins and high levels of free cash flow conversion.

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