Facebook Backer Wins Deal For Weather Firm
One of the technology investors which backed Facebook before its New York flotation is poised to take control of Meteo, the UK-based provider of weather forecasting data.
Sky News understands that General Atlantic Partners, which acquired a stake in Facebook in 2011, was on Monday in advanced talks about a deal to take control of Meteo.
The agreement, which is likely to be announced later this week, will trigger a sizeable windfall for some of the UK's biggest newspaper publishers, which collectively own the Press Association (PA), Meteo's biggest shareholder.
General Atlantic is one of the world's biggest investors in technology companies, owning stakes in businesses such as Box, the cloud computing firm, and Markit Group, the financial data provider that is expected to pursue a stock market listing in the next couple of years.
It is unclear whether PA will retain a minority stake in Meteo after the deal with General Atlantic completes.
General Atlantic has beaten off competition from rival bidders including Summit Partners, a US-based firm, and Five Arrows, the principal investment arm of the Rothschild banking dynasty.
The sale agreement comes as parts of Britain continue their clean-up after severe flooding in coastal areas last week.
A provider of weather forecasting information to corporate, industrial and media customers, PA had been looking to offload a stake of approximately 35% in Meteo.
However, one insider said last month that PA might be persuaded to offload a larger shareholding if offers valued the company at more than £200m.
Meteo was founded in 1986 by Harry Otten, a weather presenter on Dutch television, and overcame the then-oligopoly of national meteorological offices by lobbying for open access to data.
The company formed a joint venture with the Press Association in 1997, and eventually sold a controlling stake to PA Group in 2005.
The funds generated by a sale will be used to accelerate Meteo's international expansion following its move into countries including the US and Singapore.
The Press Association is owned by a consortium of 27 shareholders, including all of the major national and regional newspaper publishers such as Daily Mail & General Trust, Telegraph Media Group and News UK, owner of The Sun and The Times.
News UK is part of News Corp, whose executive chairman Rupert Murdoch is also chairman and chief executive of 21st Century Fox, which owns 39.1% of BSkyB, the parent of Sky News.
Neither Portico Capital, the corporate finance firm which is handling the sale, nor General Atlantic could be reached for comment.
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