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Report says WPP’s Sorrell eyes VNU

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London—WPP Group CEO Sir Martin Sorrell has approached a group of private equity firms trying to buy market research giant VNU in a bid to join their $8.8 billion deal, Reuters reported Tuesday morning.

The report did not say which parts of VNU WPP would be interested in acquiring. VNU owns ACNielsen as well as a portfolio of b-to-b trade magazines that includes Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter and National Jeweler.

However, Reuters also reported that a spokesman for WPP denied the company was in discussions with the buyout firms.

VNU is in exclusive talks with a group of seven private equity firms led by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., along with Carlyle Group and Blackstone Group, that have offered up to $8.8 billion for the company. The other firms that are part of the group are AlpInvest Partners, Thomas H. Lee Partners, Permira and Hellman & Friedman.

—Matthew Schwartz

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