Exclusive: Dun & Bradstreet won't sell itself now - sources

NEW YORK Thu Nov 15, 2012 9:37pm GMT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Dun & Bradstreet Corp, the owner of company database Hoover's, is not pursuing a sale for now, after talks to sell itself to a rival failed over price earlier this year, four people familiar with the matter said this week.

Shares of Dun & Bradstreet fell more than 11 percent to $71.37 on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday, valuing the company at around $3.2 billion. They closed at $73.21, down 9.4 percent.

The company, which makes money through subscriptions and licensing agreements, had been working with Credit Suisse and JPMorgan Chase to explore a sale, sources said in late July.

In August, Dun & Bradstreet announced its board had authorized an increase of $500 million to its existing share repurchase program, bringing the total authorization to $1 billion.

One of the sources said that Dun & Bradstreet is still seen as a potential takeover target for private equity firms and could revive efforts to sell itself in the future.

The people asked not to be identified because the matter is not public. Dun & Bradstreet did not respond to requests for comment. Credit Suisse and JPMorgan declined to comment.

Dun & Bradstreet is among a long list of companies that have explored and decided against a sale this year, with buyers often reluctant to meet sellers' price expectations amid global economic uncertainty and volatile stock markets.

The Short Hills, New Jersey-based company has data on more than 130 million companies in over 190 countries. Its subsidiaries include Hoover's and AllBusiness.com.

The 171-year-old company's shares fell sharply earlier this year when it shut down its Shanghai Roadway D&B Marketing Services Co unit in China, after revealing that some of its local employees there may have violated U.S. anti-bribery laws.

But through Wednesday's close its stock had risen nearly 14 percent since July 31, when news reports emerged that the company has reached out to potential buyers.

The company reported $137 million of cash and cash equivalents for its quarter ending September 30 and total gross debt of $1.02 billion.

(Reporting by Nadia Damouni, Soyoung Kim and Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Editing by PM Berlowitz)

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