VNU to Meet With Key Investor, Sale a Likely Agenda Item

30 January 2006

Media and market research titan VNU - currently the €7.3 billion ($8.85bn; £4.99bn) takeover target of a group of private equity firms [WAMN: 17-Jan-06] - is to meet on February 6 with one of its larger investors, New York-headquartered Knight Vinke Asset Management.

The meeting's official purpose is for KVAM to present the conclusions of its adviser, Boston Consulting Group, on the consortium's offer.

All else on the agenda is predictably under the wraps: "In the circumstances, it would be inappropriate for KVAM to comment further, pending this meeting," says the company.

However, an anonymous insider reveals that that VNU's board will meet only with KVAM's managing director Eric Knight. Other of VNU's large stockholders, who last year joined KVAM to torpedo the $7 billion acquisition of US healthcare data firm IMS Health, will not be present at the meeting.

Almost certainly present, however, will be investment bank Rothschild, recently hired by VNU to assess the consortium's offer.

In the absence of fact there is, as ever, no shortage of speculation. Opines Kempen analyst Oskar Tijs: "The independent valuation could advise VNU to sell its business information unit, estimated at about €1.2 billion, and to buy back more shares than the €1bn it already announced last year."

Consortium members include the original 'Barbarian at the Gates', Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, along with fellow US bettors AlpInvest Partners, Blackstone Group, Carlyle Group, Hellman & Friedman, Permira and Thomas H Lee Partners.

The largest jewel cluster in VNU's crown is the ACNielsen business, owner of the Nielsen global TV ratings service and a host of other leading research brands.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff