A private equity group will acquire the iconic audience measurement company Nielsen Corporation in an all-cash deal worth $28 per share, or $16 billion, including assumption of debt, the company reported in late March.
A group led by Evergreen Coast Capital Corporation, an affiliate of activist fund Elliott Investment Management L.P., and Brookfield Business Partners L.P. will purchase Nielsen in the second half of 2022, pending approval by Nielsen shareholders, regulators, and U.K. courts.
Nielsen had previously blocked a $15 billion sale to the group, claiming that the company’s growth prospects were not evaluated properly. The sale price represents a 10% premium over the earlier proposal and a 60% premium over Nielsen’s unaffected stock price as of March 11, 2022, the company said.
“After a thorough assessment, the Board determined that this transaction represents an attractive outcome for our shareholders by providing a cash takeout at a substantial premium, while supporting Nielsen’s commitment to our clients, employees, and stakeholders,” said James A. Attwood, Chairperson of Nielsen’s Board of Directors, in a statement.
The sale comes at a time when television networks and their owners have questioned Nielsen’s capacity for measuring viewers who watch programs on mobile screens or through streaming video. Having lost industry accreditation for its national TV ratings service, Nielsen is working on developing a new methodology that would measure unduplicated cross-stream viewership. The roll-out isn’t expected for several months, though, past the annual “up-front” ad-sales market, which has long relied on Nielsen data.
The new owner contends the company will continue to be a competitor, however, citing its testing of Nielsen ONE, another innovation that measures audiences as they watch both on TV and digitally.
“After months of deep market analysis, industry diligence, and management reviews, we are firmly convinced that Nielsen will continue to be the gold standard for audience measurement as it executes on the Nielsen ONE roadmap,” said Jesse Cohn, a Managing Partner, and Marc Steinberg, a Senior Portfolio Manager, on behalf of Evergreen and Elliott.