A consortium of private equity firms, including Elliott Management Corp., is in advanced talks to buy TV ratings firm Nielsen Holdings NLSN 30.50%
PLC for about $15 billion including debt, according to people familiar with the matter.
Financing talks with a number of banks are progressing and a takeover deal could be completed within weeks, the sources said. There is no guarantee there will be a deal as the talks could still break down.
If there was one, it would be considerable. Nielsen had a market value of $6.2 billion as of Monday morning and what is known as an enterprise value of more than $11 billion, given its heavy debt load of more than $5 billion.
Other details, including the potential price per share, could not be learned. Shares of Nielsen rose more than 30% on Monday to $22.85 a share after The Wall Street Journal reported on the talks.
For years, Nielsen has been synonymous with American television ratings metrics, which provide audience estimates that networks use to sell ad time and reassure advertisers that they got it for themselves. what they paid. But its grip has loosened as streaming gains traction and traditional broadcast and cable television lose viewers. Although the New York-based company has introduced measures for streaming in recent years, it is one of many players in this field.
Nielsen shares did not perform well as a result. Closing Friday at $17.51, they are down from a high of over $55 in 2016. They had been on a downward trend for several years when the onset of the pandemic in early 2020 made them fall. Although they have regained ground, they are still trading just below where they were before Covid-19.
Elliott has held a stake in Nielsen since 2018, when she asked the company to explore a sale. The following year, Nielsen said it would divest part of its business to create two separate public companies: Global Connect, a market analytics operation that measures retailer and consumer behavior, and the core business of media.
In April 2020, Elliott reached a settlement agreement with Nielsen in which the company agreed to add a director and form a finance committee to the board that would oversee strategic plans, including the separation. Elliott had an economic interest of approximately 13% 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 has been increasingly active in private equity, with its private equity arm, Evergreen Coast Capital Corp., in January agreeing with a partner to buy cloud computing company Citrix Systems. Inc.
for $16.5 billion including debt. It was the latest in a recent string of big leveraged buyouts as private equity firms seek to deploy the mountains of cash they have accumulated.
Nielsen had previously been acquired in 2006 by a group of private equity firms that included Blackstone Inc.,
Carlyle Group Inc.,
KKR & Co. and Thomas H. Lee Partners LP. It went public again in 2011.
If a deal were to be reached, it would come as overall merger volume slowed due to market volatility and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Global smelting activity is down about 30% this year from the same period in 2021, with about $776 billion in announced deals, according to Dealogic.
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