Our skills in Buy and Build are one of the key factors that make Duke Street’s investment approach stand out. With the Getty Images deal, those skills were on display as we helped two ambitious and far-sighted entrepreneurs first to professionalise what was a cottage industry, then to grow organically through effective marketing and use of digital technology, and finally to expand through important add-on acquisitions. Our investment helped put the company on a path to even greater growth later on.
In 1994 we became a founder investor in Getty Images, alongside the Getty Family Trust, when we acquired Tony Stone Images for £30 million.
Tony Stone was the UK's leading independent stock photography distribution company. This fast-growing business was one of the first to put stock agencies on the map as key suppliers of image content to creative professionals, mainly advertising agencies. The company was also ahead of the field in making the technological advances needed to take stock photography digital and online.
Following the acquisition, Getty Images became the world’s leading distributor of stock and archive imagery.
Before the acquisition we spent a lot of time working with the buy-in team, looking at other potential targets in the same sector. At this and every stage of the deal we benefited from the long-standing relationships we’d built with the team, Jonathan Klein and Mark Getty.
We took the lead role in structuring the transaction and arranging the necessary debt finance. And we later supported the company with various add-on acquisitions, notably Hulton Deutsch and Fabulous Footage.
In July 1996, Getty Images was floated on Nasdaq. Throughout the IPO process, we worked closely with the MBI team and the Getty Trust. Flotation meant Getty Images was able to pursue an aggressive consolidation strategy, which led to the acquisition of Image Bank from Eastman Kodak and Visual Communications from United Business Media.
We realised part of our shareholding on IPO and the balance following the end of the lock-up period.