Private equity firms agree to buy Nielsen for $16B

A consortium of private equity firms plans to buy Nielsen Holdings in a deal that values the company at $16 billion including debt, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The consortium is led by Elliott Management’s private-equity arm and Brookfield Asset Management. It will be paying about $28 per share.

Nielsen shares have been up 20% today, to around $26.70, after the news broke.

According to WSJ, the deal includes a 45-day “go-shop” period, which allows Nielsen to solicit offers from other bidders.

Nielsen measures U.S. TV ratings that help advertisers determine how much to pay for ad spots. But it’s been criticized in recent years for outdated measuring techniques that pale in comparison to digital advertising measurement from the likes of Google.

Last year, the Media Rating Council served Nielsen with two votes of no confidence and suspended its accreditation. In August of 2021, Discovery CEO David Zaslav slammed Nielsen over its “antiquated system of measurement.”

Today, Ashwin Navin, CEO and co-founder of Samba TV said, “The Nielsen acquisition is evidence of the demand that we and others are seeing from the capital markets to fund the next generation of measurement. The ad industry is moving to a multi-currency future, where omni-channel measurement systems built on first-party data need to capture everything that viewers see on a global scale. Nielsen's legacy in measurement is quite strong, and going private should give the company the time and resources needed to retool and develop future-proof solutions that play in this multi-currency world.”

Today’s deal follows a proposed deal last week, which Nielsen rejected. That deal would have valued the company at $25.40 per share.