VNU Board Greenlights Sale to Private Equity Buyers

08 March 2006

The board of beleaguered Dutch media and research giant VNU agreed Tuesday to accept an acquisition offer in the region of $8.5 billion (€7.15bn; £4.90bn) from a slimmed-down group of private equity firms.

The six-strong purchasing consortium - US firms Blackstone Group, Carlyle Group, Hellman & Friedman, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Thomas H Lee Partners plus Netherlands-based AlpInvest Partners - has shed a seventh member, Permira Advisers of the UK for reasons unstated.

VNU is the holding company for the globe's largest research group ACNielsen plus an international conference and exhibitions division and a stable of business publications including the Hollywood Reporter and Billboard.

A formal announcement is expected today (Wednesday). While it is certain that the VNU board has conducted soundings with the group's main investors, it remains to be seen whether a majority of stockholders believe the price is right.

An earlier offer of €7.2bn was widely criticized as undervaluing the group.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff