MSCI released a terse press release yesterday announcing it will be selling CFRA, a leading forensic research provider, to an undisclosed ‘private investor’ for an undisclosed price. Is Howard Schilit buying back his old company?
Schilit sold CFRA to TA Associates, a private equity firm, in 2003 for around $60 million or about 3.3x revenues. TA Associates had ambitions of doing a research rollup using CFRA as a core property. CFRA revenues declined after the sale, however, and the rollup did not come to pass. TA Associates was able to turn around the revenue decline and resell CFRA to Riskmetrics in August 2007 for approximately what it paid.
CFRA remained separately branded, even after MSCI bought Riskmetrics in 2010. More recently, CFRA was tucked in with MSCI’s governance products under ISS. We get the sense that CFRA has been languishing, which is not dispelled by MSCI’s laconic disposition of the property.