KKR Buying CarsDirect.com Owner Internet Brands for $1.1 Billion
The private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts has agreed to buy Internet Brands, which operates a portfolio of websites and software, in a bet that it can help the company expand its services.
The deal, which Internet Brands is expected to announce later on Tuesday, is worth $1.1 billion, according to two people briefed on the matter who were not authorized to speak publicly. K.K.R. is buying the company from two other private equity firms, Hellman & Friedman and JMI Equity, which bought it for $640 million in 2010.
Members of the Internet Brands management team, including Bob Brisco, the chief executive, are investing in the deal alongside K.K.R. They will hold a minority stake and continue to run the company.
Internet Brands, based in El Segundo, Calif., owns websites like Lawyers.com, CarsDirect.com and ApartmentRatings.com. The company historically has generated a large portion of its revenue from advertising, while also selling leads to law offices and car dealerships
But more recently, under Hellman & Friedman’s ownership, it has expanded in an area called “software as a service” that provides companies with software to accomplish certain tasks. Its Autodata Solutions business, for example, provides services to companies like Toyota, Ford and Chrysler.
K.K.R. is aiming to expand each of these various business lines, while maintaining the focus on certain broad categories: automobiles, health, legal and a fourth category the company calls home and travel. There are no plans to break up the business, the two people briefed on the matter said.
K.K.R. has previously had success with another technology company that managed a portfolio of assets. In 2010, it acquired Visma, a company based in Oslo that provides businesses with software for accounting and payroll tasks. K.K.R. sold part of its stake in Visma this year.
The private equity firm is also an owner of Go Daddy, a domain name registration company.
“Internet Brands is at an exciting inflection point of growth as the company transitions from a portfolio of web assets to a vertically integrated provider of media and client software solutions,” Herald Chen, the co-head of K.K.R.’s technology investing team, said in a statement. “Its growth has been driven by its powerful, proprietary operating platform and a management team with a focused vision.”