Saturday, December 1, 2018

Bidding War Looms For Nielsen

A pack of buyout firms is reportedly exploring a bid to buy Nielsen as the measurement giant continues a strategic review of its options, which could involve a sale of all or parts of the company.

According to InsideRadio, among the interested suitors is Chicago-based private equity group Madison Dearborn, which last year hired former Nielsen global president John Lewis as an executive partner “to secure compelling investment opportunities” in the information services landscape.

John Lewis
Lewis is said to be playing a pivotal role in structuring a possible bid for Nielsen.

Nielsen has been under activist shareholder pressure to sell. In August, Hedge fund Elliott Management said it bought stocks and options totaling 8.4% of the measurement provider. Run by billionaire Paul Singer, the activist investor said in a regulatory filing it will “encourage the issuer to undertake a full strategic review of, and initiate a process to explore the sale.”

In September, Nielsen said it was expanding a strategic review of the company to include a possible outright sale of the entire operation or a spin-off of parts of its business. Other options being considered include continuing to operate as a public company or a spin of either its Buy or Watch segments. Nielsen has hired J.P. Morgan Securities and Guggenheim Securities as financial advisors, and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz as legal counsel to assist in the review.

Madison Dearborn isn’t the only private equity group kicking the tires at Nielsen. At least half a dozen buyout firms have hired advisers for potential bids, according to the Financial Times. Among those reportedly studying a possible offer are a group led by Blackstone and Hellman & Friedman, along with Washington-based Carlyle and Singapore’s GIC and Canada’s CPPIB.

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