Billboard parent VNU, a global information and media company based in the Netherlands, has agreed to be acquired by a consortium of six private equity investors. The offer values VNU’s equity at €7.5 billion ($8.9 billion) or €28.75 per common share.
The deal, which is targeted for completion in May, is subject to shareholder approval. Last year, VNU withdrew an offer to merge with health care information firm IMS Health after institutional investors among VNU’s shareholders expressed opposition to the merger plan. The current offer to purchase VNU followed the withdrawal of the merger proposal.
Valcon Acquisition, the newly formed consortium that proposes to acquire VNU, says it will keep the company “substantially together” after completion of the deal. This counters speculation that an acquisition would result in the breakup of VNU. In addition to Billboard, VNU comprises AC Nielsen and Nielsen Media Research and a long list of trade magazines, including Adweek and The Hollywood Reporter.
The consortium members are affiliated funds of AlpInvest Partners, the Blackstone Group, the Carlyle Group, Hellman & Friedman, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Thomas H. Lee Partners. The Blackstone Group has investments in Columbia House and numerous communications firms, including Sirius Satellite Radio and Susquehanna Radio. Thomas H. Lee Partners’ investments include Warner Music Group.
The offer represents a 23% premium over the closing price of VNU shares on July 8, 2005, the last trading day prior to announcement of the planned IMS merger. VNU’s shares closed yesterday at €27.45.