By Jessica Toonkel and Abhirup Roy
(Reuters) - Thomson Reuters Corp (TRI.N) (TRI.TO) said on Wednesday it was exploring strategic options for its Intellectual Property & Science business, which had revenue of about $1 billion in 2014.
The business, which has 3,200 employees, provides intellectual property and scientific information and associated tools and services to governments, universities and companies.
"While a few of IP & Science’s businesses operate at the intersection of global commerce and regulation, the vast majority of the unit does not align in the same way as our other business units," Chief Executive Jim Smith told employees in an e-mail on Wednesday.
"The decision we are announcing today reflects the difficult choices we must all make every day as we prioritize our resources and energy towards our key growth opportunities," Smith said.
Analysts estimate that the business could be valued at more than $3 billion, or more than 10 times EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization).
Possible suitors for the business include Amsterdam-based Elsevier, Hoboken, New Jersey-based John Wiley & Sons, Inc (JWa.N) and Springer Nature, which has offices globally, said Sanford Bernstein analyst Claudio Aspesi.
Thomson Reuters spokesman David Crundwell declined to comment on valuation. Thomson Reuters is the parent of Reuters News.
Springer and Elsevier's parent, RELX Group, declined to comment. Wiley did not respond to e-mailed requests for comment.
Thomson Reuters' decision to sell the business did not come as a big surprise to analysts, given that it is not a key part of the company's growth strategy.
"There is no obvious path to making it larger and more profitable," Aspesi said.
The IP and Science business contributed about 8 percent of Thomson Reuters' total revenue of $12.6 billion before currency adjustments last year.
The unit's revenue rose 3 percent in 2014, compared with 1 percent growth in the company's total revenue before currency adjustments.
Thomson Reuters said it would use any net proceeds from a potential transaction for general purposes, including investing in its core businesses, repaying debt and accelerating share buybacks.
National Bank Financial analyst Adam Shine said he would view the divestment of the unit for these purposes as "a positive."
Basil Moftah, formerly president of the unit, is leaving Thomson Reuters and has been replaced as president by Vin Caraher, who previously led the Thomson Scientific business.
Guggenheim Securities LLC and JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) are financial advisers to the company.
U.S.-listed shares of Thomson Reuters were trading around $40.79 on Wednesday afternoon, up over 2 percent. Shares of the company's Toronto-listed stock were trading at $54.11, up around 2 percent.
(Reporting by Jessica Toonkel in New York, Supantha Mukherjee and Abhirup Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Ted Kerr, Nick Zieminski, Toni Reinhold)