By Chibuike Oguh
(Reuters) - Blackstone Group Inc <BX.N> said on Wednesday it agreed to acquire genealogy provider Ancestry.com Inc from private equity rivals for $4.7 billion, including debt, placing a big bet on family-tree chasing as well as personalized medicine.
Ancestry.com is the world's largest provider of DNA services, allowing customers to trace their genealogy and identify genetic health risks with tests sent to their home.
Blackstone is hoping that more consumers staying at home amid the COVID-19 pandemic will turn to Ancestry.com for its services.
"We believe Ancestry has significant runway for further growth as people of all ages and backgrounds become increasingly interested in learning more about their family histories and themselves," David Kestnbaum, a Blackstone senior managing director, said in a statement.
The deal is Blackstone's first acquisition out of Blackstone Capital Partners VIII, the largest-ever private equity fund that raised $26 billion from investors last year.
Ancestry.com has more than 3 million paying customers in about 30 countries, and earns more than $1 billion in annual revenue. Launched in 1996 as a family history website, it harnessed advances in DNA testing and mobile phone apps in the following two decades to expand its offerings.
Blackstone is buying Ancestry.com from private equity firms Silver Lake, Spectrum Equity and Permira. Singapore's sovereign wealth fund GIC, another Ancestry.com investor, said it will continue to maintain a significant minority stake in the company.
The acquisition's price tag represents a significant jump to Ancestry.com's valuation from four years ago, when Silver Lake and GIC invested in the Lehi, Utah-based company at a $2.6 billion valuation.
(Reporting by Chibuike Oguh in New York; Editing by Bernadette Baum)