Investment trio to make $800m Internet marketing deal

One Equity partners, Oak Investment Partners and Rho Ventures have agreed to acquire direct marketing service company Vertrue.

One Equity Partners, the private equity unit of global investment bank JPMorgan, has joined venture capital firms Oak Investment Partners and Rho Ventures in a joint agreement to buy Internet direct marketing services company Vertrue for about $800 million (€600 million).

The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2008. Lehman Brothers and JPMorgan will provide the debt financing for the transaction.

Shareholders will receive $48.50 in cash per share. That value is a 21 percent premium over the January 23 closing price of $40.12. Media reports speculating about the sale of Vertrue emerged on January 24, the company said in a statement.

Gary Johnson will maintain his position as the chief executive officer of Vertrue following the completion of the deal. Its executive management team will also remain in place.

Norwalk, Connecticut-based Vertrue offers customers consumer savings in healthcare, personal property, security and insurance, discounts and personals. It offers its services through Internet marketing channels.

One Equity Partners has offices in New York, Chicago and Frankfurt and has about $5 billion in private equity investments under management. Last May, the firm joined the Italian banks Banca Intesa, Banca Leonardo Group, Capitalia and Mediobanca, as well as the US financial firm Lehman Brothers, to buy a minority stake of about 39 percent in Pirelli Tyre, a subsidiary of Italian manufacturer The Pirelli Group. That deal was worth about $945 million.

Oak Investment Partners has about $8.4 billion in capital under management and invests in the communications, information technology, Internet, new media, financial services, information technology, health services and consumer retail industries. The firm joined the private equity firm Catterton Partners to buy Texas restaurant chain Cheddar’s from Brazos Private Equity Partners last August. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Founded in 1981, Rho Ventures has made a number of Internet-related investments. Among those are investments in computer maker Compaq and women’s interest website iVillage.  Other notable investments include fiber optic transmission systems developer Ciena Corporation, e-commerce solutions provider Commerce One and medical products maker Medimmune.