Getty Images bought out by Carlyle Group in $3.3bn deal

GETTY Images, the world’s biggest photo agency, has been taken over by Carlyle Group after the American private equity firm won the bidding for a majority share in the company.

The deal sees Carlyle take just over 50 per cent of Getty from another private equity outfit, Hellman and Friedman. The remainder of the agency will be controlled by Getty’s management, with the total deal valuing the company at $3.3bn (£2.1bn).

Carlyle is betting on growing demand for online images as the media industry moves away from print. “We will harness Carlyle’s financial resources and global network to help take Getty Images to the next stage of product innovation and global growth,” Carlyle’s managing director Eliot Merrill said yesterday.

Getty has moved to adapt to the growing market for digital pictures, but prices commanded online still pale to those in print.

Carlyle, which was advised by Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan on the deal, beat other private equity firms including CVC Capital to the deal. Mark Getty and chief executive Jonathan Klein, who founded Getty Images together in 1995, will invest their own equity in the deal.

Klein said the agency was seeing “an explosion of demand for rich media and visual content”. Getty has expanded into video distribution in recent years as demand for interactive online material grows.