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British Airways weather group to be sold off

By Mark Kleinman, City editor
The company which supplies data used by BBC weather forecasters is to change hands after a stormy five-year tenure in the hands of one of the world’s biggest private equity firms.
Sky News has learnt that MeteoGroup, which employs more than 100 meteorologists, is closing in on a sale to a rival that will crystallise an overall loss for General Atlantic, its owner since 2013.
A deal is expected to be finalised with the buyer, whose identity was unclear on Thursday, in the next few days.Sources said that while the headline price of the deal was likely to be higher than the €190m paid by GA, it had marked a rare misstep for the buyout firm, which has backed valuable technology companies including Buzzfeed and Uber.Pricing pressure across the industry is said to have been a factor in the challenging conditions faced by the business in recent years.MeteoGroup is a major supplier of weather forecasting information to business customers, competing with companies including StormGeo and IBM, the US technology giant which owns The Weather Channel.Clients include British Airways, which uses its data on its in-flight entertainment system, and the BBC, where it replaced the Met Office as the principal supplier of weather-related data earlier this year.Accurate weather data has become an increasingly important element of business planning processes for companies around the world.
The sale of MeteoGroup is expected to coincide with Storm Florence making landfall in the eastern US in the next few days.StormGeo is said to have been among the bidders for MeteoGroup at an earlier stage of the auction.The GA-backed company replaced its last chief executive in 2016 with Donat Retif, a former boss of Truvo, a Belgian-based information and advertising group.MeteoGroup's sales performance has improved since then, but GA and the company's lenders are understood to have decided that its future ownership would make more sense as part of a larger strategic player in the market.Sources said that the jobs of MeteoGroup's 450 employees in 17 offices around the world were expected to be protected as part of the deal.
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EY, the accountancy firm, has been brought in to advise on the sale.GA and MeteoGroup declined to comment on Thursday.
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