Dun & Bradstreet Corp. announced Sunday that it was selling its airline guides business for $750 million cash to a company formed by British publisher Robert Maxwell, and had given Maxwell an option to purchase its travel agency business.
The business publishing and market research company, which had announced in July that it was seeking a buyer for its Official Airline Guides and Thomas Cook Travel USA units, said it should realize a $450-million after-tax gain from the deal.
Maxwell and Dun & Bradstreet stated in a news release that they expected to complete the deal by the end of the year. The Official Airline Guides business includes transportation and travel guides, travel magazines such as Frequent Flier, which has a circulation of about 350,000, and an on-line ticketing, reservation, schedule and fare information service.
"OAG is the world's leading information and related services provider to the travel industry," said Maxwell, who already publishes the in-flight magazine for British Airways.
The Thomas Cook Travel division of the business is one of the nation's biggest travel agencies, with annual sales of $365 million, according to Dun & Bradstreet. Including Thomas Cook, Official Airline Guides had operating income of about $65 million on revenue of about $180 million last year.
Dun & Bradstreet, which also owns the Nielsen marketing and television research companies, Moody's Investors Service credit rating firm and Donnelley marketing and directory publishing businesses, has been acquiring and selling businesses in order to focus more on its key markets for information services.
Dun & Bradstreet agreed to acquire IMS International Inc., a major market research concern, last February in a stock swap valued at $1.77 billion. The firm also has announced plans to acquire Commercial Credit Co.'s American Credit Indemnity Co. business credit insurance subsidiary for $140 million, and Chase Manhattan Corp.'s Interactive Data Corp., a securities research firm for $140 million.
Dun & Bradstreet posted a profit of $375.9 million, or $2.01 per share, on revenue of $3.13 billion during the nine months ended Sept. 30.
Maxwell's publishing empire includes U.S. trade magazines and British tabloid newspapers.