Shareholders reportedly urge breakup of VNU

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New York—Shareholders of Dutch media giant VNU are urging the company to split itself into three divisions and sell the pieces rather than agree to a buyout offer of nearly $9 billion made last month by a consortium of private equity firms. The shareholders’ proposal was first reported in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal .

The newspaper said shareholders want to break the company into three parts: ACNielsen, Nielsen Media Research and a publishing company made up of VNU’s b-to-b division, whose  assets include Billboard, Hollywood Reporter and National Jeweler.

VNU said Feb. 2 that it “continues to be in active talks with a private equity consortium over a proposed buyout of the company, and that its supervisory and executive boards expect to provide their view on the nonbinding offer by the end of the month.” VNU has also received a financial analysis showing that a sale of the whole company would be the most lucrative for shareholders, according to the Journal.

VNU was put in play in January after it dropped its effort to acquire health care research company IMS Health for $7 billion in the face of shareholder opposition.

—Matthew Schwartz

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