VNU to Cut 4,000 Employees

Savings Will Fund NielsenConnect and Other Initiatives

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CINCINNATI (AdAge.com) -- VNU will lay off as many as 4,000 of its roughly 42,000 global employees in a long-anticipated, cost-cutting reorganization following the company's buyout by a private-equity consortium earlier this year.
VNU CEO David L. Calhoun said the massive personnel cuts are aimed at reducing costs by 10%.
VNU CEO David L. Calhoun said the massive personnel cuts are aimed at reducing costs by 10%.

The moves will cut costs by 10%, with most of job cuts coming from "non-client-facing activities," CEO David L. Calhoun said in a statement.

New initiatives
Savings will be used to fund a number of new initiatives, including the NielsenConnect service aimed at culling new insights from VNU's far-flung research properties and the Anytime Anywhere Media Measurement (A2/M2) program to track digital media and personal video devices.

But VNU's statement said nothing about investments in new computer and software systems that would put the company's databases on a common platform -- something people close to the company say has been a concern for clients. A spokesman earlier this month also declined to comment on whether the company would invest in systems upgrades.

Management changes
VNU also announced several management changes as part of the restructuring, including a shift to a single global client-service organization for all of its services.

It will combine product innovation, research and development, and marketing into a single organization under Susan D. Whiting, who will become exec VP, reporting directly to Mr. Calhoun. Steve Schmidt, CEO of VNU's marketing-information organization, will leave the company as that group is folded into Ms. Whiting's organization.

John Lewis, now CEO of ACNielsen U.S., will expand his duties to oversee ACNielsen Canada. Pat Dodd will succeed Frank Martell, who is leaving the company, as president of ACNielsen Europe.
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