Initial Interactive Data bids due mid-Feb-sources

* First-round bids due mid-February, but process fluid

* Private equity firms expected to bid

* Banks offering leverage at 5.5-6 times EBITDA

By Anupreeta Das and Megan Davies

NEW YORK, Feb 2 (BestGrowthStock) – Initial bids for Interactive
Data Corp (IDC.N: ), the financial market data provider
controlled by Pearson PLC (PSON.L: ), are due in mid-February,
sources familiar with the situation said.

Interactive Data has a market value of about $2.8 billion,
based on Tuesday’s closing share price of $29.35 on the New
York Stock Exchange. That values Pearson’s 61 percent stake at
roughly $1.7 billion.

U.K. publisher Pearson, which owns the Financial Times
newspaper as well as the world’s biggest educational publishing
business and Penguin books, said in January that Interactive
Data’s board was conducting a preliminary review of strategic
alternatives for the company.

Several private equity firms are expected to put in initial
bids, the sources said.

Goldman Sachs, which is representing the sellers, has
suggested to potential buyers it could offer debt financing at
a multiple of 5.5-5.75 times Interactive Data’s earnings before
interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), some
of the sources said.

Other banks are suggesting offering slightly higher
leverage multiples — up to 6 times — they said.

The banks’ willingness to offer debt at these multiples
signals an ongoing improvement in the financing markets. Prior
to the credit crunch, it was common to finance private equity
deals with large amounts of debt. But in recent months, many
deals were being financed with a higher proportion of equity.

Interactive Data sells financial information and analytical
tools to banks and other financial institutions, bringing it
stable revenue that makes it an attractive buyout target.

One source described the process as being fluid, meaning
that the timetable for the sale could change.

Selling the stake would let Pearson use the proceeds for
other acquisitions in education in emerging markets or digital
learning.

Representatives for Goldman Sachs, Bedford,
Massachusetts-based Interactive Data and London-based Pearson
declined to comment.

Penny Stocks

(Reporting by Megan Davies and Anupreeta Das; Editing by Derek
Caney)

Initial Interactive Data bids due mid-Feb-sources