Consortium Including Elliott in Advanced Talks to Buy Nielsen Holdings

A consortium of private equity firms including Elliott Management Corp. is in advanced talks to acquire television ratings company Nielsen Holdings NLSN 30.50%

PLC for about $15 billion including debt, according to people familiar with the matter.

Financial talks with several banks are underway and a takeover deal could be finalized within weeks, the people said. There is no guarantee there will be an agreement, as negotiations could still fall apart.

If there is one, it will be very important. Nielsen has a market value of $6.2 billion as of Monday morning and what is known as an enterprise value of more than $11 billion, with its massive debt of more than $5 billion.

Other details could not be found out, including potential price per share. Shares of Nielsen jumped more than 30% Monday to $22.85 per share after The Wall Street Journal reported on the talks.

For years, Nielsen has been synonymous with measuring U.S. television ratings, providing audience estimates that networks use for commercial part-time, and reassuring advertisers that they’re getting the best results. what they paid. But its hold has been loosened as streaming gains steam and traditional broadcast and cable TV lose viewers. While the New York-based company has introduced metrics for streaming in recent years, the company is one of many players in that field.

As a result, Nielsen stock did not perform well. Closing Friday at $17.51, they were down from a high of over $55 in 2016. They had been on a downtrend for several years as the pandemic hit in early 2020 sent them plummeting. Although they have regained some ground, they are still trading just below pre-Covid-19 levels.

Elliott has owned shares of Nielsen since 2018, when the company urged the company to explore a purchase. The following year, Nielsen said it would spin off part of its business to form two separate public companies: Global Connect, a market analytics operation that measures retail and consumer behavior, and core media business.

In April 2020, Elliott signed a settlement with Nielsen, in which the company agreed to add a director and create a finance committee on the board to oversee strategic plans including including separation. Elliott had about 13% economic interest in Nielsen at the time.

Global Connect was sold last year to private equity firm Advent International Corp. for nearly $3 billion and is now known as NielsenIQ.

Elliott is increasingly active in the private equity sector, with the private equity arm, Evergreen Coast Capital Corp., agreeing in January with a partner to acquire the cloud computing company Citrix Systems . Inc.

for $16.5 billion including debt. This is the latest in a recent string of large leveraged acquisitions as private equity firms seek to deploy the mountains of cash they have amassed.

Nielsen was previously acquired in 2006 by a group of private equity firms including Blackstone Inc.,

Carlyle Group Inc.,

KKR & Co. and Thomas H. Lee Partners LP. It was made public back in 2011.

If a deal is finalized, it will come as merger volume has generally slowed due to market volatility and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. According to Dealogic, global merger activity is down about 30% this year compared to the same period in 2021, with deals worth about $776 billion announced.

Write letter for Dana Cimilluca at dana.cimilluca@wsj.com and Cara Lombardo at cara.lombardo@wsj.com

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Appears March 15, 2022, print edition as ‘Nielsen Is Target of Takeover Talks.’

https://www.wsj.com/articles/consortium-including-elliott-in-advanced-talks-to-buy-nielsen-holdings-sources-say-11647278285?mod=rss_markets_main Consortium Including Elliott in Advanced Talks to Buy Nielsen Holdings

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