(Reuters) - Data giant S&P Global Inc has agreed to buy IHS Markit Ltd in an all-stock deal worth $44 billion that will be the biggest corporate acquisition of 2020 and create a heavyweight in the increasingly competitive market in financial information.
The mega deal, which IHS Markit Chief Executive Officer Lance Uggla told employees in a memo had been in the works for the last few months, highlights the growing importance of big data in financial markets governed by information-hungry trading algorithms.
It is expected to close in the second half of 2021 if it can pass reviews by antitrust regulators who have been showing increasing interest in the sector.
"The next steps will be to receive regulatory approvals both in the U.S. and the EU, which we expect to take between six to nine months, and receive approval by our respective shareholders," Uggla said in the internal memo seen by Reuters.
S&P Global is best known for providing debt ratings to countries and companies, as well as data on capital and commodity markets worldwide. It became a standalone business in 2011 when its then parent McGraw-Hill separated S&P from its education business.
IHS Markit was formed in 2016 when IHS, whose businesses include data on automotive and technology industries, bought Markit Ltd for around $6 billion.
Markit, founded by former credit trader Uggla, provides a range of pricing and reference data for financial assets and derivatives.
IHS has a market value of around $36.88 billion based on the stock's last close on Friday, a Reuters calculation showed, with its share price up around 22% so far this year.
As part of the deal, which includes $4.8 billion of debt, each share of IHS Markit will be exchanged for a ratio of 0.2838 shares of S&P Global stock, the two companies said.
S&P Global shareholders will own roughly 67.75% of the combined company and the rest will be held by IHS shareholders. Douglas Peterson, CEO of S&P Global, will lead the combined firm, while Uggla will be a special advisor for a year after the deal closes.
The Wall Street Journal reported news of the deal earlier on Monday. (https://on.wsj.com/2VtPXql)
Merger and acquisition activity touched a record high in the September quarter, with more than $1 trillion worth of transactions, mostly focused on coronavirus-resilient sectors such as technology and healthcare, according to Refinitiv data.
The London Stock Exchange is in the final stage of trying to win clearance for its planned $27 billion acquisition of data provider Refinitiv, which has been through a long review process by the European Union's competition commissioner.
Refinitiv was carved out of Thomson Reuters by private equity giant Blackstone in 2018, when it bought a 55% stake in the business in its biggest bet since the 2008 financial crisis. Thomson Reuters, parent of Reuters News, retains a 45% holding in the business.
Goldman Sachs acted as lead adviser to S&P, while Morgan Stanley was leading the negotiations for IHS. Citi and Credit Suisse also worked with S&P, while Barclays, Jefferies and JPMorgan helped IHS.
IHS shares rose nearly 6% in trading before the bell, while S&P Global was down about 2.5%.
(Corrects to drop reference to Jane's Defence Weekly in paragraph 6. The error also appeared in previous versions of the story)
(Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain, Maria Ponnezhath, Shubham Kalia in Bengaluru, Pamela Barbaglia in London and Greg Roumeliotis in New York, Writing by Rachel Armstrong and Anirban Sen; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Arun Koyyur)