Chairman, President and CEO Stephen Polk will remain with the company after the deal closes, Mr. Wilinsky said. Plans for his specific role were not disclosed.
Mr. Polk is the great-grandson of company founder Ralph Lane Polk and the only member of the family directly involved with the company.
"Stephen is a great partner and adviser and we very much look forward to building the IHS Automotive business with him," Mr. Wilinsky said.
Mr. Polk joined the family firm in 1981 and was elected its president in 1990, according to the company's online history. He became COO in 1992 and CEO and chairman in 1994.
There are no changes planned for Polk's Southfield headquarters, Mr. Wilinsky said.
"Detroit is a significant headquarters for both Polk and existing IHS employees. This will continue," he said.
IHS didn't provide a specific answer when asked about Polk's nearly 1,300 employees worldwide.
Mr. Wilinsky did say Polk's corporate leadership would be retained.
"We see great opportunity to leverage their senior relationships, developed over 100 years, as we drive additional values and solutions," he said.
In March, Polk retained New York City-based Evercore Partners Inc. to "explore strategic growth opportunities," including a possible sale.
In a conference call with analysts June 10, IHS President and CEO Scott Key said Polk ended up in an auction with "a large number of interested parties."
No details about the auction or the other bidders were disclosed.
Ten percent of the Polk sale price is equity, IHS said, and terms of the equity portion of the deal were not disclosed.
IHS said it is using $175 million in cash on hand as part of the deal. The remainder is from a current revolving credit facility and new debt financing.
Mr. Key said IHS likes Polk's stability and its long client relationships, noting that 75 percent of the firm's revenue is recurring and 90 percent of that is renewed annually.
IHS plans to expand Carfax's global footprint. The unit has some presence in Europe, but it will be deployed in growing markets such as India, Russia, Brazil and China.
Polk bought Carfax in 1999. The price wasn't disclosed.
IHS is forecasting automotive growth in emerging markets, and that expansion will fuel a need for data as production shifts to these emerging markets.
Buying Polk bolsters IHS's own automotive unit that handles industry forecasts for OEMs, suppliers and auto dealerships.
IHS bills itself as an information, insight and analytics company that employs more than 6,700 people in 31 countries. It had revenue of $1.5 billion last year, a 15-percent increase over 2011.
Polk generated $401 million in revenue in 2012—60 percent of which came from Carfax.
The company traces its roots to the 19th century: Ralph Lane Polk founded the company in Detroit in 1870 with the publication of a directory of the names of 17,500 residents and 600 professionals and tradespeople along the Detroit and Milwaukee railway, according to the company's official history.
It became known as a publisher of city directories.
Then-General Motors Corp. President Alfred Sloan asked Ralph Lane Polk II to tabulate and publish automotive statistics in the early 1920s, according to the company's history. That launched its vehicle data services.
Polk will be IHS's largest acquisition. It also bought Detroit-based automotive forecasting firm CSM Worldwide in 2010 for $27 million.
In recent, years IHS has acquired a number of major data and analytics providers, including the aerospace and defense giant Jane's Information Group for $183.5 million in 2007.
This report appeared in Crain's Detroit Business magazine, a sister publication of Tire Business.