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12:20 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

IHS buys Southfield company, R.L. Polk & Co. for $1.4 billion

IHS Inc. announced on Monday that they would buy the automotive data firm R.L. Polk & Co. for $1.4 billion.

Polk has a long history in southeast Michigan.

Founded in 1870 in Detroit, the company started keeping statistical data on the automotive industry in the 1920s.

Since the 1920s, Polk has expanded globally. The company collects and analyzes a myriad of data sets on the automotive industry – from repair history to brand loyalty ratings. They use this information in consulting with the automotive industry.

In 1999, Polk fully acquired Carfax, a company that compiles vehicle histories by using vehicle identification numbers (VIN).

IHS is an international research, market analysis, and consulting company.

Joseph White at the Wall Street Journal talked with the CEO of IHS, Scott Key. White reports:

"We are buying this because it's a growth engine," Mr. Key said in an interview with this morning. "We will have $500 million in free cash flow next year." IHS reported free cash flow of $249.6 million for fiscal 2012.

The Polk acquisition will be the largest deal yet in a series of about 70 acquisitions IHS has made during the past ten years to expand its business information and analysis operations, Mr. Key said...

Polk will become part of IHS Automotive, and Mr. Key said Polk's trove of data about vehicle registrations, ownership and repair data will allow IHS to offer auto makers and automotive parts and technology supplies a wide range of data spanning from production to the end of a vehicle's life.

Key told the WSJ that IHS plans to expand Polk in international markets, especially in China where Polk is the "sole partner with Chinese authorities to gather vehicle registration data.

-Julia Field, Michigan Radio Newsroom