Hedge fund Elliott Management Corp has acquired an 8.4% stake in Nielsen Holdings, at an estimated value of $660m, and aims to put pressure on the Nielsen Board to sell the company.
Since January, Nielsen's stock price has plummeted 40% and at the end of last month, shares in the company fell 27% in one day, after it lowered its outlook for 2018 and announced that CEO Mitch Barns will be retiring at the end of the year. The firm's TV ratings 'Watch' division continued to perform well in the second quarter, while its consumer behavior 'Buy' division saw consecutive revenue declines. Nielsen's Board of Directors, together with management, is now conducting a Buy segment review, and sources believe this may lead to the eventual sale of the division.
Nielsen, which was founded by Arthur C. Nielsen in 1923, was acquired by Dun & Bradstreet in 1984, and then split into two separate companies: TV ratings arm Nielsen Media Research and consumer shopping and box office trends specialist AC Nielsen. In 1999, Dutch publisher VNU acquired Nielsen Media Research, and in 2001, it brought both parts of the business back together under the Nielsen umbrella. In 2006, Nielsen was taken private by a consortium of six firms - including Carlyle, Blackstone and KKR - for about $10 billion; then those firms took Nielsen public seven years ago.
Shares of Nielsen Holdings jumped 12% yesterday after Elliott Management, which is owned by after billionaire Paul Singer (pictured), revealed in a regulatory filing it now has economic exposure to about 30 million Nielsen shares, representing about 8.4 percent of the $9 billion company, and that it is pushing for the sale. According to a source, Nielsen has engaged J.P. Morgan to help with the strategic review and assess takeover offers. A Nielsen spokesperson commented: 'Nielsen's Board of Directors and management team are actively focused on executing the company's strategy to achieve sustainable, profitable growth and drive long-term value creation for all shareholders. The Board and management regularly engage with shareholders and welcome the views and perspectives of its owners, including Elliott'.
Web site: www.nielsen.com .