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Picture: 123RF/MARCO CIANNAREL
Picture: 123RF/MARCO CIANNAREL

 A consortium of private-equity firms including Elliott Management is in talks to buy TV ratings company Nielsen Holdings for about $15bn including debt, the Wall Street Journal  reported on Monday.

Nielsen shares rose 42% to $24.95. Trading was paused twice for volatility after the Journal’s report. 

Financing discussions with a number of banks are progressing and a takeover deal could be completed within weeks, the report said, citing people familiar with the matter. 

Nielsen is known for its ratings that are used to determine advertising rates for TV commercials, but the rise of streaming services such as Netflix and Disney+ over cable TV has been limiting how Nielsen can measure ratings.

The company had a market cap of $6.29bn as of Friday close and its shares have lost nearly 15% so far in 2022.

Activist investor Elliott had pushed Nielsen for a sale in 2018, forcing the market research company to consider splitting into two publicly traded companies a year later.

But that plan was scrapped in 2020, when Nielsen decided to sell its consumer goods data unit for $2.7bn to sharpen focus on its media business. 

Elliott owns 4.6% of Nielsen and is among the top ten shareholders, according to Refinitiv data.

In 2006, Nielsen was taken private by a group of firms that included Carlyle Group and Blackstone Group. It went public again in 2011.

Elliott did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. Nielsen declined to comment.

Reuters 

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