London – Reuters Group (LSE: RTR, Nasdaq: RTRSY), the global information company, has sold the ORT SAS group, based in Paris, to Coface (Paris: CFAS.PA), a subsidiary of Natexis Banques Populaires. The divestment, completed on 31 March 2004, is part of Reuters previously stated aim to reduce non-core holdings and focus on its core businesses under Fast Forward.
ORT is a leading European provider of credit, financial, commercial and legal information, and also distributes essential public data for government agencies in France, Belgium and the United Kingdom. ORT's profit before tax and extraordinary items for the year ended 31 December 2003 was €6.7 million, and its net assets as at 31 December 2003 were €16.2 million, including more than €10 million cash, which remains in ORT at completion.
Reuters has received initial consideration of €46.6 million in cash. Reuters may receive additional consideration of up to €1 million through a post-completion net equity adjustment. As a part of this transaction, ORT also distributed €25 million in cash to Reuters prior to completion. Reuters intends to use the proceeds from the sale of ORT to pay down debt.
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