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Bloomberg to scoop up legal research firm for $990-million

Bloomberg LP plans to buy legal tax and regulatory research company BNA for about $990-million (U.S.) as it shores up its legal business in a direct aim at rivals Thomson Reuters and Reed Elsevier.

The deal announced on Thursday for $39.50 per share in cash will be the largest acquisition Bloomberg has made and is part of a larger effort by the news and financial information company to expand its legal and government services business.

Owned by current and former employees who must approve the transaction, Arlington, Virginia-based BNA provides editorial products for the legal, tax and accounting, human resources and health and safety industries.

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"They will no doubt be looking to use (BNA's) information product as a way to further push the Bloomberg Law offering into legal firms," said Paul Sullivan, an analyst with Barclays Capital.

Bloomberg Law competes with the Westlaw legal database of Thomson Reuters and with Reed Elsevier's LexisNexis.

"In the context of Westlaw, (BNA) is still a niche information provider but it signals an intent of Bloomberg to get more aggressive in the space," Sullivan said.

BNA reported $331-million in revenue for 2010 while revenue at the legal division of Thomson Reuters was $3.6-billion for the same year.

Bloomberg said it will operate BNA as stand-alone subsidiary. The transaction is expected to close this year.

Evercore Partners advised BNA on the deal.

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