Private equity firms have slapped bids of around $4 billion on the table to take over the international photo agency Getty Images.
The bids for the Seattle-based agency came from private equity firms with buyout firms KKR and TPG said to be among at least five bidders who remain interested as the stage is set for the second round, said the Wall Street Journal.
Chairman Mark Getty and CEO Jonathan Klein co-founded Getty in 1995 to distribute stock photos and other visual content online, as the Internet boom got under way. They were the first in the world to license photos online.
The company now employs around 1,900 people, distributing stock photographs, video footage and digital images to organisations around the world.
Buyout firm Hellman & Friedman took Getty private in 2008 in a leveraged buyout that valued the company at $2.4 billion.
Although Getty had considered a potential initial public offering in addition to a sale, the IPO plans are "on the back burner, given the level of interest in the company", said the WSJ, quoting people familiar with the situation.