TV ratings provider Nielsen expands review to include company sale
(Adds details on the company)
By Joshua Franklin and Greg Roumeliotis
Sept 11 (Reuters) - Nielsen Holdings Plc will
expand a review of strategic alternatives to include a sale of
the entire TV ratings company, the firm told Reuters on Tuesday,
after coming under pressure to do so from hedge fund Elliott
Nielsen, best known for providing audience figures that are
used to determine advertising rates for TV commercials, has been
seeking to adapt to the media industry's shift to digital
advertising and video consumption on mobile devices.
Nielsen said in a statement it was working with investment
banks JPMorgan Chase & Co and Guggenheim Securities LLC,
as well as law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, on an
"expanded" review of strategic alternatives.
The company had said previously it was only exploring a sale
of its "buy" segment, which provides marketing data on what
customers purchase, and not its "watch" segment, which offers
viewership and listenership data and analytics across
television, radio, online and mobile devices.
The expanded review includes an assessment of a broad range
of options, including continuing to operate as a public,
independent company, a separation of either Nielsen's buy or
watch segment, or a sale of the company, Nielsen said,
cautioning that no deal is certain.
Elliott unveiled a stake in Nielsen last month and called on
the company to explore a sale in its entirety. The hedge fund
declined to comment on Tuesday.
Nielsen faces competition from start-ups using automated
content recognition (ACR) to track viewing habits via mobile
devices and smart TVs. It acquired Gracenote in 2017 in a bid to
bolster its ACR capabilities.
As viewer habits change, Nielsen has also made a move to
cover shows watched on online streaming services, via platforms
such as Netflix or via games consoles.
Nielsen is heavily indebted, the legacy of a leveraged
buyout in 2006 by six private equity firms; Carlyle Group LP
, Blackstone Group LP, KKR & Co Inc, Thomas
H. Lee Partners LP, AlpInvest Partners and Hellman & Friedman
They took Nielsen public in 2011, and the company now has a
market capitalization of $9.4 billion and total debt of $8.66
Nielsen has received some interest from private equity firms
for a new leveraged buyout of the entire company, according to
people familiar with the approaches who requested anonymity to
However, such a deal would represent one of the biggest
leveraged buyouts of recent years, and it is unclear whether
such a transaction can be put together.
James Attwood, executive chairman of Nielsen's board, is
leading the review, the company said.
Attwood is a managing director at Carlyle and the former
head of its global telecommunications, media, and technology
group, according to the company's website.
Nielsen said in July that is CEO Mitch Barns will step down
at the end of the year. Attwood has been leading the search for
(Reporting by Joshua Franklin and Greg Roumeliotis in New York;
editing by Richard Pullin and Darren Schuettler)
First Published: 2018-09-12 04:25:43
Updated 2018-09-12 05:19:16
© 2018 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved. Reuters content is the intellectual property of Thomson Reuters or its third party content providers. Any copying, republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. "Reuters" and the Reuters Logo are trademarks of Thomson Reuters and its affiliated companies.