Dissenting shareholder gives up opposition to VNU sale

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Amsterdam—The saga over the sale of media giant VNU seems to be coming to an end after the company’s most vocal dissenting shareholder Friday gave up its opposition to the deal. The sale of VNU to a private equity group for $9.7 billion now appears to be a fait accompli.

Knight Vinke Asset Management, which owns 1.3% of VNU, tried to rally other investors to block the sale after it successfully blocked VNU last year from acquiring IMS Health for $7 billion. However, on Friday Knight Vinke threw in the towel and expressed its support for the sale.

The six private equity firms, using the name Valcon Acquisitions, in January originally offered $8.8 billion for VNU, which owns Nielsen Media Research, ACNielsen and a slew of trade publications.

But after Knight Vinke and another shareholder, Fidelity Investments, said the price was too low, Valcon sweetened the deal to nearly $10 billion. Valcon reportedly has five days to publicly announce its plans. The buyout firms that make up Valcon are AlpInvest Partners, Blackstone Group, Carlyle Group, Hellman & Friedman, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and Thomas H. Lee Partners.

—Matthew Schwartz
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