The popular genealogy website Ancestry.com (Nasdaq: ACOM) is being sold to the European private-equity firm Permira, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.  

Anonymous sources speaking to the Journal claimed that the private equity interest firm hopes to expand its family history research and database service beyond a niche market with the acquisition. By improving the service through an expanded digital archive, technological improvements to the website itself, and an expansion into western Europe, Permira hopes to expand the company’s user base into an international community.  

According to Ancestry.com's Q2 2012 earnings report, the the publicly traded Utah-based company’s site already has over two million subscribers paying between $12.95 and $34.95 a month for its online content and services. The report from this past July added the service has accessed over 10 billion records and 38 million family trees.

Ancestry.com also owns and operates several other popular web-based family history and archival services such as Genealogy.com, MyFamily.com, ProGenealogists, and Rootsweb.com, and Footnote.com. First founded in 1983 as Ancestry Inc., it switched the majority of its services to web-based databases in 1997 when its print service, Ancestry magazine, was purchased by Western Standard Publishing. Since then, the company has shifted its focus to digitizing historical records.

At $1.6 billion, the company is being sold for $32 in addition to the vesting of outstanding options, a 40 percent jump in its price since it first started facing buyout rumors in late July.

Ancestry.com will carry “just under $1 billion” in debt from the deal, according to the Journal. The buyout group includes several of the Permira’s co-investors as well as several members of Ancestry.com’s own management team, including Chief Executive Tim Sullivan and Chief Financial Officer Howard Hochhauser.