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Nielsen Sells Global Connect to Advent International for $2.7 Billion

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(Image credit: IronHeart via Getty Images)

Nielsen Holding said that it has agreed to sell its Global Connect business for $2.7 billion to affiliates of Advent International, a private equity investor, in partnership with James Peck, former CEO of TransUnion.

Under pressure from shareholders, Nielsen had announced plans to spin Global Connect into a separate business and rename it Nielsen IQ. Nielsen plans to have a conference call Monday with investors to discuss the transaction. It will also discuss its third quarter earnings, originally planned to be reported on Thursday.

As part of the deal, Nielsen will receive warrants in the new company. The transaction was unanimously approved by Nielsen's Board of Directors.

"This is a win for both Nielsen Global Connect and for Nielsen (RemainCo), as well as for our shareholders," said Nielsen CEO David Kenny.

"The sale of this business to Advent will deliver substantial value sooner than was anticipated through the planned spin-off and creates certainty for all stakeholders. The proceeds from the sale will allow Nielsen to significantly reduce debt, which will provide greater financial flexibility to execute our growth strategy and expand our role in the global media marketplace,” Kenny added. “At the same time, we are excited about this opportunity for Nielsen Global Connect and believe that moving forward as a private company will better position the business to accelerate its transformation and strengthen its market-leading position. With the support of Advent's resources and expertise, we believe the new company will create and define the next century of consumer and market measurement.”

David Rawlinson, who was hired to run Global Connect, will remain CEO through the close of the transaction and is expected to be part of the leadership team for the company going forward. 

"Nielsen Global Connect is the gold standard in retail measurement, with exceptional insights and unrivaled scale and coverage of the global CPG and retail markets," said Peck. "As customers face a rapidly evolving marketplace, we recognize that they have high expectations for Nielsen Global Connect to help them meet these new demands and to build on its existing core platform and other retail measurement capabilities. We intend to work with David Rawlinson and the talented management team to accelerate the delivery of new capabilities and to continue the transformation underway to build an innovative, high-performing culture acutely focused on delivering value to customers around the world."

Peck is expected to be involved in the day-to-day strategic and operations activities of the new company, which will be based in Chicago.

"Advent is thrilled to partner with Jim in driving this next phase of growth for Nielsen Global Connect," said Chris Egan, managing partner at Advent. "Advent has invested in data and information services companies for nearly three decades, and earlier this year we teamed up with Jim to identify a compelling business in the sector where we can apply our combined experience and resources to create value. We see tremendous potential to build on Global Connect's cutting-edge platform, drawing on our global footprint and operational strength to further scale the business and advance its leadership across established and emerging markets."

Nielsen will grant Nielsen Global Connect a license to brand its products and services with the "Nielsen" name and other Nielsen trademarks for 20 years following closing. Additionally, Nielsen and Advent will enter into agreements pursuant to which, among other things, Nielsen and Advent will provide certain transitional services to each other for periods of up to 24 months following closing, grant each other reciprocal licenses for certain data and corresponding services relating to that data for periods of up to five years following closing and grant each other licenses to use certain patents.