VNU Sale Row Prompts AGM Delay

14 April 2006

Rebel shareholders appear to have brought pressure to bear on VNU's board over the proposed sale of the company to private equity bidders [WAMN:10-Apr-06].

The Netherlands-headquartered research and media giant, which owns ACNielsen, has delayed its annual meeting, scheduled for April 18. It says the day will now be devoted to "full and comprehensive" discussion of the €7.5 billion ($9.14bn; £5.22bn) offer from the six-strong consortium.

The sale to Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Blackstone Group, among others, was recommended by the board but fiercely opposed by many investors, led by New York-based Knight Vinke Asset Management.

KVAM managing director Eric Knight believes the postponement of the AGM is a vindication of his position.

"It sounds like VNU has finally got the message," he observed. "I made the rounds of all the major shareholders following Monday's presentation by VNU and not a single one was going to vote for the board at the annual meeting."

VNU defended its decision to defer the AGM until June, commenting: "The company believes that a constructive discussion of [AGM items unrelated to the bid] is not feasible until the results of the offer become clear."

Data sourced from Financial Times online; additional content by WARC staff