Nielsen to go private in deal that values the TV ratings company at $16 billion

David Kenny, chief executive officer of Nielsen, poses for a portrait at Nielsen's headquarters in New York City.
Nielsen Chief Executive David Kenny at the company’s New York headquarters in 2021.
(Michael Nagle/For The Times)

Nielsen Holdings has agreed to be acquired by a consortium including Evergreen Coast Capital Corp., an affiliate of Elliott Investment Management, and Brookfield Asset Management Inc.

The take-private deal values Nielsen, the television ratings gold standard since the 1950s, at about $16 billion including debt, according to a statement Tuesday. The offer is all cash.

Media companies say the research firm cost them big money during the pandemic. Nielsen’s chief executive David Kenny responds.

Dec. 13, 2021

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.


The deal values the business at $28 a share, according to the statement, which is 26% higher than Monday’s close. Nielsen rose 21% to $26.88 at 10:11 a.m. EDT Tuesday in New York trading.

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 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.

This deal came after weeks of haggling over the price. Last week, Nielsen and Windacre Partnership, one of the company’s largest shareholders, rejected a $24.50-per-share offer from the group. Nielsen had said that offer didn’t award shareholders for its growth prospects. Windacre said it didn’t come close to the company’s “intrinsic value” of at least $40 per share. A representative for Windacre declined to comment.

Matthew Thornton, an analyst at Truist Financial Corp., said in a research note that the deal will go through “as-is.” The consortium likely held discussions with Windacre to determine whether the firm would vote for the latest offer, he said.

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% 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.

JPMorgan Chase & Co., Allen & Co. and PJT Partners Inc. advised Nielsen. Evergreen and Brookfield’s advisors were Bank of America Corp., Barclays, Credit Suisse Group, Mizuho Financial Group Inc., HSBC Holdings and Citigroup Inc.