We don't buy businesses to "flip" them. We try to think like very long-term owners, and to act accordingly. That said, we have sold parts of the company from time to time.
Most notably, in July 2003 we sold our group of public records companies to the Lexis Nexis unit of Reed Elsevier, plc. The transaction began with an approach to us from Reed Elsevier, which offered a very fair price and convinced us that our operation would benefit from ownership by a global company with much greater resources.
We called these six companies The National Group because all had nationwide scope and scale, compared to our multi-local business information operations.
The six that we sold were U.S. Corporate Services, which filed and searched for Uniform Commercial Code financing statements; Banko, which sold bankruptcy data; Banko Document Retrieval, which gathered and sold court documents; Hogan Information Services, which gathered public records nationwide; clickdata.com, which repackaged and resold via the Web the public records gathered by the other units; and Acollaid, which assisted credit customers in cleaning up their databases to improve collection rates.
The National Group was an outgrowth of a strategy that began with our newspaper public records databases. The sale generated substantial returns for the Company's investors and measurably has improved our ability to raise investment capital on attractive terms. We are very proud of these companies and of our colleagues who helped us build such important, successful operations.
In September 2005 we sold Greene & Associates, our business-to-business teleservices unit, to management. Based in Lincolnshire, Illinois, Greene operates large call centers in Manchester and Independence, Iowa. We retained our operating relationships with Greene but sold the business after concluding that we were not making it any better by our ownership. That criterion is basic for us; if we aren't making a business better by our involvement, then we ought to give somebody else the opportunity to try. We are pleased to report that Randy Greenberg, the president and happy new owner of Greene & Associates, is succeeding. Way to go, Randy.
In December 2009, we sold our 21.9% ownership share of GovDelivery, Inc. in connection with its merger with Internet Capital Group.