After months of speculation, television ratings giant Nielsen Holdings BV has pulled the trigger on its planned initial public offering, announcing a deal that it hopes will raise $1.75 billion to help reduce its $8.6 billion debt and for general corporate purposes.
A Nielsen IPO has been expected for months as speculation grew that its owners, a group of six private equity firms - Blackstone Group, Carlyle Group, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Thomas H. Lee Partners, Alpinvest and Hellman & Friedman - were looking to exit. This would be Nielsen's second go-round as a public company -- it was taken private in 2006 when the six private equity firms purchased it for about $10 billion.
The company has been paring assets of late - in December it shed some of its media trade publications including The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard.
Nielsen did not reveal its proposed stock price, how many shares it intends to offer tor when the IPO will take place. J.P. Morgan Securities and Morgan Stanley are serving as the joint lead book runners of the offering, according to the prospectus filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission Thursday. Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup are acting as joint book running managers, according to the prospectus,
Nielsen has been the dominant player in television ratings for years, but has recently had to fight off upstarts like Rentrak Corp. and TiVo that are using technologies that capture viewership data directly from the set-top box.
In the prospectus, Nielsen said revenue for the ratings giant was essentially flat in 2009 at $4.8 billion. Net losses improved in the year to $491 million from $589 million in 2008.
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