by Matthew Monks, Ruth David and Aaron Kirchfeld
Power-equipment maker Schneider Electric SE is weighing a sale of DTN, an agriculture news and data service that could be worth as much as $1.5 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.
Schneider has spoken with potential advisers about a sale of DTN after receiving unsolicited interest in the Omaha, Nebraska-based company, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. While considerations are at an early stage, Schneider could decide whether to auction off the unit as soon as next month, one of the people said.
Euromoney Institutional Investor Plc, the London-based publishing and broadcasting company, expressed interest in buying DTN last year, two of the people said. While Euromoney would consider looking at the business if it were put up for sale, there haven’t been any recent approaches, one of the people said.
DTN would likely attract interest from both information and technology companies as well as private equity firms, the people said.
Representatives for Euromoney and Schneider declined to comment.
Schneider shares rose 1.65% to 61.43 euros in Paris trading at 10:49 a.m. The stock has gained 17% this year.
Schneider, like other industrial conglomerates with exposure to the energy industry, has been unloading tertiary business lines to cope with sluggish demand for oil-and-gas related parts and services. While DTN is a solid, profitable business, Schneider does not consider it to be a core operation, the people said.
Meanwhile, there has been an uptick in demand for companies such as DTN, which provide expensive, in-depth data, news and analysis. General Atlantic agreed in May to take a majority stake in energy industry data-provider Argus Media Ltd., while McGraw Hill Financial agreed to buy SNL Financial in July last year.
DTN charges for access to news and data on everything from market prices of cattle and grain to highly detailed weather forecasts for estimating crop yields. Clients include farmers, commodity traders and others active in the agriculture industry. Rueil-Malmaison, France-based Schneider acquired DTN when it agreed to buy Spanish software provider Telvent GIT SA for about $1.6 billion in 2011.
Schneider, with a market value of more than $40 billion, is the dominant provider of various types of low-and-medium-voltage equipment, circuit breakers and other types of electrical apparatus. Its products are used by companies to manage everything from office air-condition systems to robots used in manufacturing.
It made a failed bid earlier this year for U.K. software maker Aveva Group Plc.
--With assistance from Francois de Beaupuy and Manuel Baigorri. To contact the reporters on this story: Matthew Monks in New York at [email protected]; Ruth David in London at [email protected]; Aaron Kirchfeld in London at [email protected]
Elizabeth Fournier, Amy Thomson
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