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Consortium reportedly readies formal bid for VNU

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Amsterdam—A consortium of private equity firms is about to make a firm bid for Dutch media giant VNU, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

In January, the consortium offered $8.9 billion for the media and information conglomerate, which runs the Nielsen television ratings service as well as a large b-to-b magazine portfolio that includes Billboard and The Hollywood Reporter. VNU went into play in January after its failed bid to acquire health care research company IMS for $7 billion.

The Journal said a bid of around $34 per share could be made as soon as Friday.

Last week VNU said it expected to take a few more weeks to decide on the consortium’s offer. Analysts have called the offer disappointing, and VNU shareholders are reportedly prepared to reject it and push management to break up the company instead.

The firms involved in the bid are AlpInvest Partners, of the Netherlands; Permira Advisers Ltd., of the U.K.; and Blackstone Group, Carlyle Group, Hellman & Friedman, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and Thomas H. Lee Partners, all of the U.S.

—Matthew Schwartz

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