Getty Images has received around $4 billion in initial bids related to a potential sale as it progresses to the second round of an auction, people close to the matter told The Wall Street Journal.
Those most interested in the purchase have been private-equity companies like KKR (KKR) and TPG. At least five bidders remain seriously interested in Getty, the people said.
The Seattle-based photo agency holds an archive of tens of millions of photographs, including those taken of Lyndon Johnson when he was being sworn in following the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
On its web site, Getty says its archive photos collection cover "America from its birth to present day," including "an array of photos, maps, fine art and engravings from legendary sources like Pictorial Parade, FPG and George Eastman House.”
The agency distributes its photos and videos to media and other organizations.
Buyout company Hellman & Friedman took Getty private in 2008 in a leveraged buyout that valued the photo agency at $2.4 billion. A group of investors, including Getty’s co-founder, Mark Getty, that together hold a minority stake in the company, are expected to roll over their investment and strike a new deal with the incoming private equity owner, the Journal said.
Getty’s owners had also been considering an initial public offering, however people close to the matter told the newspaper that those plans are on the back burner.
The company did not respond to FOXbusiness.com for a comment on this story.
A private-equity buyer would have to put up at least $1 billion in equity to buy Getty, sources close to the matter told the Journal.