Buyout Giants Offer $8.9 Billion for VNU

The Dutch media giant owns well-known brands including ACNielsen, Billboard, and The Hollywood Reporter.
Stephen TaubJanuary 16, 2006

Several of the world’s largest buyout firms are flexed their muscles overseas by teaming up with an offer of $8.9 billion for the Dutch media giant VNU N.V.

The private equity group consists of The Blackstone Group, The Carlyle Group, Hellman & Friedman, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., Permira, Thomas H. Lee Partners, and AlpInvest Partners, Europe’s largest investor in private equity funds.

VNU, which owns well-known brands including ACNielsen, Billboard, and The Hollywood Reporter, announced it will continue discussing a possible deal with the consortium while weighing its alternatives. It stressed, however, that currently it is not proceeding with discussions with any other party.

The non-binding proposal is subject to, among other things, negotiation and execution of a merger protocol and completion of due diligence, the company explained. VNU added that it will provide further information within three to four weeks.

“The level of this bid seems to be a bit meager,” said Maurits Heldring, an analyst at Kepler Equities in Amsterdam, according to Bloomberg.

The wire service added that a buyout group probably would sell the VNU Business Information division, which publishes magazines and organizes trade shows, since the leanly run operation leaves little room for cost cutting.

Bloomberg pointed out that Blackstone, KKR, and Permira also participated in the group of companies that in November agreed to buy Danish phone company TDC A/S for $15.3 billion — Europe’s largest leveraged buyout.

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