A consortium including Evergreen Coast Capital Corp., an affiliate of Elliott Investment Management, and Brookfield Asset Management Inc has acquired Nielsen Holdings Plc.
The take-private deal values Nielsen, the television-ratings gold standard since the 1950s, at about $16 billion including debt, according to a statement. The offer is all cash.
The consortium has fully committed debt and equity financing and there are no financing conditions to the closing, which is expected in the second half of the year. The transaction requires approval from Nielsen shareholders and U.K. court approval. Nielsen has a 45-day go-shop period to find other potential suitors.
Founded in 1923 as a market measuring firm, New York-based Nielsen provides audience data services to many of the media industry’s premier networks. Led by chief executive officer David Kenny, the company has vied with mixed results to adapt to the growth of streaming in the past decade.
As the television industry transitions further from broadcast and cable, questions about Nielsen’s ability to accurately quantify activity on next-generation media platforms have increased pressure on the company to keep up. In September, an industry council suspended its accreditation of Nielsen’s national ratings service for underreporting viewership during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Activist investor Elliott, run by billionaire Paul Singer, made an initial investment in Nielsen in 2018. The following year, Singer’s firm reduced its stake in the company because of its role in a strategic review. Elliott still owned a 4.6 percent stake as of Dec. 31, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Nielsen’s stock has since been hounded by prospects of media clients weighing alternative audience-measurement firms. Nielsen is also facing a lawsuit by networks owned by media mogul Byron Allen that alleges the company’s services are “unreliable” and have cost the industry lost ad revenue.