Hedge Fund Buys Nielsen Stake And Urges Company to Sell

Investment company and hedge fund manager Elliot Management said it controls 8.8% of the shares in Nielsen worth $660 million and is urging the company to put itself up for sale.

In a SEC filing, Elliott Management said that on July 26 it bought about 5 million shares of Nielsen for between $21.54 and $22.41.

On that day, Nielsen made several announcements. It reported that it was launching a strategic review that could lead to a sale of its troubled buy-side unit; it reported lower second-quarter profits and it said CEO Mitch Barns was retiring.

Nielsen stock, which had closed at $29.56 on July 25, closed on July 26 at $22.11, down 25%.

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After Elliott Management’s investment and its plan to push Nielsen into a sale were disclosed, Nielsen shares rose 10% to $24.24 in Monday morning trading..

In its filing, Elliot said it believes Nielsen’s shares “are undervalued and represent an attractive investment opportunities.”

Elliott added that it will “seek to engage in a dialogue with the issuers board of directors and/or management about numerous operations and strategic opportunities to maximize shareholder value.”

It said it will encourage Nielsen to undertake a full strategic review of, and initiate a process to explore, the sale of [Nielsen] in full, in addition to the exploration of the sale of certain of [Nielsen’s] businesses or assets.”

Elliott said it might invest in or buy some of those businesses.

Nielsen responded with a statement. "Nielsen’s Board of Directors and management team are actively focused on executing the company’s strategy to achieve sustainable, profitable growth and drive long-term value creation for all shareholders," the company said. "On July 26, 2018, the Board announced that it is conducting an in-depth strategic review of Nielsen’s Buy segment in order to identify the most appropriate options for this segment going forward. The Board continues to evaluate opportunities to best position the business for long-term success and growth and to generate value for all shareholders."

Among other companies Elliott Management has said it has owned stake include Interpublic Group and Comcast.

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.