Consortium including Elliott in talks to buy Nielsen for $15 bln - WSJ

REUTERS/Lee Jae-Won

March 14 (Reuters) - A consortium of private-equity firms including Elliott Management is in talks to buy TV ratings company Nielsen Holdings (NLSN.N) for about $15 billion including debt, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

Shares of Nielsen surged more than 35% on the news.

Financing discussions with a number of banks are progressing and a takeover deal could be completed within weeks, the report said, citing people familiar with the matter. (https://on.wsj.com/3KLv0hR)

Nielsen is known for its ratings that are used to determine advertising rates for TV commercials, but the rise of streaming services such as Netflix and Disney+ over cable TV has been limiting how Nielsen can measure ratings.

The company had a market cap of $6.29 billion as of Friday close and its shares have lost nearly 15% so far this year.

Activist investor Elliott had pushed Nielsen for a sale in 2018, forcing the market research company to consider splitting into two publicly traded companies a year later.

But that plan was scrapped in 2020, when Nielsen decided to sell its consumer goods data unit for $2.7 billion to sharpen focus on its media business. (https://reut.rs/34H7DqD)

Elliott owns 4.6% of Nielsen and is among the top ten shareholders, according to Refinitiv data.

In 2006, Nielsen was taken private by a group of firms that included Carlyle Group and Blackstone Group. It went public again in 2011.

Elliott did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. Nielsen declined to comment.

Reporting by Nivedita Balu and Eva Mathews in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath

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