Chinese Consulting Firm iResearch’s Owner Weighs Exit

The founder of iResearch Consulting Group is weighing selling his controlling stake and is seeking about 1 billion yuan ($156 million), according to people familiar with the matter.

Henry Yang, who established the firm in 2002, is working with an adviser to identify a buyer for his 44.3% stake in the consulting firm, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the discussions are not public. The adviser has reached out to some local companies in the industry and private equity firms to gauge their interest, the people said.

Considerations are at a preliminary stage and Yang could decide against a sale, the people said. A representative for iResearch said the company is currently in the process of raising funds that will lead to a change in shareholding, declining to provide more details.

Headquartered in Beijing and Shanghai, iResearch provides data products, analytics and consulting services, according to its website. It has more than 400 employees globally with offices in Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Hangzhou, Silicon Valley, New York and Hong Kong. iResearch provides market research for listings including Bilibili Inc. and Kuaishou Technology in Hong Kong.

The majority ownership of iResarch has changed hands several times after Focus Media Information Technology Co. bought out the consulting firm in 2008 for about $9 million, according to official filings. In 2011, U.S. private equity firm Silver Lake Partners acquired a controlling stake in iResearch for $22 million, while Yang also acquired a 25% holding in the company.

Three years later, Silver Lake sold its 70% stake to Primavera Capital for $65 million. At the end of 2015, Yang bought part of Primavera’s holding and became the controlling shareholder again.

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