VNU Delists as KKR Shoehorns Hollick Onto Board

13 July 2006

VNU on Tuesday ceased to be a publicly quoted company - a decision taken by its new owner Valcon Acquisition, a six-member consortium of private equity groups.

Coincident with the delisting VNU announced the proposed addition of five new directors to its supervisory board. The most portentous appointment is that of Lord Clive Hollick, a former British media tycoon who these days whiles away his retirement by heading the UK operations of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.

Assuming his appointment is ratified at an upcoming shareholders' meeting - seen as a foregone conclusion - Hollick is unlikely be a passive board member.

The four other proposed directors, each of whom represents a consortium member, are a mixed bunch: two died-in-the-wool moneymen and two with a former senior management background in telecoms. The words 'media' and 'convergence' come to mind.

Daniel F Akerson is managing director of Carlyle Group and a quondam honcho at three major telecoms companies, including MCI Communications. James A Attwood Junior, also a Carlyle candidate, formerly hails from another telco giant, Verizon Communications.

Richard J Bressler, an ex-svp/cfo at Viacom, is the nominee of Thomas H Lee and the quartet's remaining member is James A. Quella, a former investment banker who these days is a senior executive with the Blackstone Group.

VNU's new masters also intend to raise around $1.67 billion (€1.31bn; £906.1m) from unsecured debts maturing between 2014-2016; plus an immediate seven year loan facility for €4.3bn ($5.48bn; £2.98bn), plus a six-year €574m revolving credit deal.

The reasons for raising these sums, guaranteed by VNU as a corporate entity, were not revealed. However, there is speculation they will flow straight back into the coffers of consortium members in reimbursement of the €8.7bn they paid to acquire the Dutch research and publishing giant.

Data sourced from (UK); additional content by WARC staff