Getty Images Up For Sale

Posted on 1/21/2008 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (1)

Getty Images is on the auction block, hoping to be sold for more than $1.5 billion. Final bids are due by the end of January, but people briefed on the situation cautioned that it is unclear which firms would submit. Among those companies showing interest are private equity firms Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Bain Capital.

Once bids are in Getty's board of directors will determine whether to accept the highest bid. The board could decide to reject all bids and continue to operate the company.

The biggest problem facing Getty is that Wall Street is currently in disarray and much of the funding that was in play a few months ago is gone. Those investors left tend to be much more selective in where they will put their money. Getty and the stock photo business may not be considered the best available option.

The price of Getty shares on Friday, Jan. 18 was $21.94, giving the company a current stock value of about $1.3 billion. It also has approximately $350 million in debt. Two years ago, Getty's stock price was in the $90 range and share value has declined more than 47% in just the last year.

One of the things that appeals to investors is that Getty generates about $150 million in cash per year. That would enable new owners to borrow a lot of additional debt. Getty Images currently has about $300 million in cash.

Short-term prospects for Getty's revenue growth are not particularly attractive. Sales in Getty's commercial still photography core business have been steadily declining in the last three quarters and were down 7.8% in Q3 compared to Q1. Getty's Q4 and year-end figures will be announced on Jan. 31 and most industry observers expect there to be a continued decline. With 2008 shaping up to be a recession year, the prospects for near-term improvement are not bright.

If Getty Images is sold, it is expected that operations will continue much the same.

It would seem likely that Klein will remain as CEO for the foreseeable future. In order to grow revenue, the new owners will want experienced management to continue to operate the company. They are likely to offer Klein a very attractive package to stay.

The company will likely go private, or be absorbed by a much larger company. Thus, it will no longer be required to submit detailed financial reports on a quarterly basis. No longer needing to show increased quarterly profits could enable the company to take a long-range view of the industry that might benefit all involved. On the other hand, the information that Getty has been required to report has been of tremendous value to others in the industry, as an aid to understanding industry trends. That information will disappear.

Copyright © 2008 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-251-0720, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


  • Alan Bailey Posted Jan 23, 2008
    pretty cool how the sales rumor pushed their stock value up around $1.5 billion from $1.3 billion. gotta love the free market.

Post Comment

You must log in to post comments.

Stay Connected

Sign up to receive our FREE weekly email listing new stories posted.

Follow Us

Free Stuff

Recent Stories – Summer 2016
If you’ve been shooting all summer and haven’t had time to keep up with your reading here are links to a few stories you might want to check out as we move into the fall. To begin, be sure to complet...
Read More
Corbis Acquisition by VCG/Getty Images
This story provides links to several stories that relate to the Visual China Group (VCG) acquisition of Corbis and the role Getty Images has been assigned in the transfer of Corbis assets to the Gett...
Read More
Finding The Right Image
Many think search will be solved with better Metadata. While metadata is important, there are limits to how far it can take the customer toward finding the right piece of content. This story provides...
Read More
Where Is The Stock Photo Industry Headed?
For new readers, or those who may have missed some of what I have written over the last few months, the following are a list of stories worth looking at to get a sense of where the industry is headed.
Read More
Photography As A Career
It’s that time of year when high school seniors are waiting for college acceptance letters and thinking about future careers. If you know someone who is thinking about photography as a career you mig...
Read More
2014 Stories You May Have Missed
For many the end of the year is a time to review past experiences and consider whether it makes sense to chart a new course in the year ahead. Stock photography has changed dramatically for professio...
Read More
More Stories In 2014 You May Have Missed
Every so often I put together a list of the most important stories we’ve published in the recent past. If you are engaged in the business of stock photography the links below are to stories that we’v...
Read More
Getty: A Three Month Review
In all the excitement about 35 million FREE images it is worth looking back at some of things that have been happening at Getty Images in the last three months. After watching revenue decline for the...
Read More
State Of Stock Photo Industry: 2013
If you’re looking for an overview of the state of the stock photo industry as of October 2013 the stories listed below are a good place to start. Regular readers of Selling-Stock will have seen all t...
Read More
Education Market Shifts To Digital
If supplying pictures for educational use is a significant part of your business plan you need to be aware of how the market is trending toward digital delivery and how that is likely to affect the p...
Read More

More from Free Stuff