VNU reportedly mulling sale of business media unit

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New York—VNU may be mulling a sale of VNU Business Media, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

VNU is in the midst of trying to convince wary investors to approve its proposed $7 billion deal to acquire IMS Health, a pharmaceutical industry information and consulting firm.

VNU Business Media, which publishes the Hollywood Reporter and is headed by Michael Marchesano, could fetch $1.2 billion at auction, according to the Journal.

Industry observers have long speculated that VNU Business Media did not fit in with VNU’s overall effort to limit its exposure to cyclical ad revenues.

If VNU Business Media is worth $1.2 billion, the question then turns to: Who would buy the unit?

The only likely strategic buyer is Reed Elsevier, offered one industry observer, who added that Reed has also spent the past five years limiting its reliance on advertising dollars, so the move might be viewed as a step backward by shareholders. Reed owns Variety magazine.

If a financial buyer were to be interested, it would have to be one with a large war chest, such as JPMorgan Chase Co. or Credit Suisse First Boston, according to an industry observer.

—Sean Callahan

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