China-backed PE firm XIO sells market research unit J.D. Power to Thoma Bravo

Photo: REUTERS/Beawiharta

China-backed private equity firm XIO Group has agreed to sell its data analytics and consumer intelligence business J.D. Power to technology-focused PE firm Thoma Bravo for an undisclosed amount.

Reuters earlier reported that XIO Group was exploring a sale of its market research business at close to $1.9 billion, including debt. The PE firm acquired J.D. Power in 2016 for $1.1 billion.

Based in Costa Mesa, California, J.D Power provides consumer insights, advisory services, and data and analytics to companies. While its roots are in car research, it also conducts annual customer satisfaction surveys on industries, from credit cards to hotel loyalty programs and cable companies, that are often cited in advertisements and commercials.

A pioneer in data science, J.D. Power has been delivering industry intelligence on consumer interactions with brands and products for over 50 years. It has offices in 16 cities throughout North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and South America.

The transaction is expected to close by year-end, subject to customary closing conditions.

In a statement, Thoma Bravo said it plans to partner with J.D. Power’s existing team in the ongoing expansion of the company, with a focus on the continued development of enhanced industry insights, advanced analytics, and innovative new offerings.

“J.D. Power is one of the most recognized brands in the world, synonymous with a deep understanding of real-world customer experience, and it provides trusted insight that businesses of every type need to make critical strategic decisions,” said Scott Crabill, a Managing Partner at Thoma Bravo.

US-headquartered Thoma Bravo is a private equity firm focused on the software and technology-enabled services sectors. It has a series of funds representing more than $30 billion in capital commitments.

J.D. Power President and CEO Dave Habiger said the acquisition will help J.D. Power develop new growth opportunities and continue on its “current path of rapid expansion”.

XIO’s acquisition of J.D. Power in 2016 did not come easy as it attracted US government scrutiny because the buyout firm has investors from China. The sale to Thoma Bravo comes at a time of increased government scrutiny of Chinese-backed ownership of US firms that preside over consumer-related data.