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Tuesday, September 16, 1997 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Photodisc, Getty Form Imaging Firm

Seattle Times Business Reporter

Seattle-based PhotoDisc, a privately held royalty-free provider of digital stock photography, and Getty Communications of London are forming Getty Images in a $160.8 million deal announced today.

PhotoDisc, founded by Mark Torrance, Mark Callaghan, Sally von Bargen and Tom Hughes in 1991, received 9.6 million shares of stock in the new company and $30 million in cash.

The founders will serve on the board of the new company, which was registered in Delaware. A U.S. headquarters has not been selected.

PhotoDisc, which has about 175 employees in Seattle and 25 in Europe and Asia, will continue to operate in Belltown as a subsidiary of Getty Images.

PhotoDisc had sales of $20 million in the first half of this year.

Getty Communications is controlled by the J. Paul Getty family, which made a fortune in the oil industry and has one of the largest collections of photographs and films in the world. Its collection includes 25 million photo images and about 9,500 hours of film that will be part of the new group.

The new Web-based image-distribution business will be the world's largest provider of commercial imagery, with offices and agents in more than 25 countries, a Getty representative said.

The photos and images are used mainly by the advertising, publishing and broadcasting industries but also will be available to students and others on the Internet.

Getty Communications, which went public in July, competes against Bill Gates' Corbis and Image Bank, a unit of Eastman Kodak.

Information from Bloomberg News is included in this report.

Copyright (c) 1997 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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