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I haven’t talked to anyone who works at Getty Images yet about the official sale of the company, so I don’t know if people there are happy or not about the situation. One group who should feel happy, though, is Getty shareholders. The sales price of $2.4 billion is hefty. I’m not the only person who was surprised that the private equity firm of Hellman & Friednman paid that much. There is no denying the downward pressure on the prices that Getty can charge for imagery. (For a very interesting read on how digital technology puts downward pressure on the pricing of everything, go here.) After earlier reports that there were no buyers willing to step up, I thought the company might end up being sold off in pieces. Shows you what I know.
I’m also surprised that Getty honchos Jonathan Klein (above) and Mark Getty are staying on with the company. I thought new management would be the order of the day. In any case, Klein and Getty will be facing a new world now, according to Barbara Coffey, vice president of equity research at Kaufman Bros.
“What will be most interesting is to see what changes occur after the company goes private,” Coffey says. “Jon and Mark will no longer be under the microscope that being public requires. But at many levels being private will place even more pressure on the business. While the public market is focused on quarter-by-quarter results, the private market is less so. But it is much more focused on overall returns, which may be hard for these guys if the market stays as chaotic as it has been lately.” So we’ll wait and see.—David Schonauer