With VNU pushing back annual meeting, takeover plan in jeopardy

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New York—VNU said Wednesday that its annual meeting will be moved back by almost a month to give shareholders time to decide whether they want to sell their shares to a consortium of private equity firms. The move puts in serious jeopardy the plan by the consortium to acquire the media giant for $9.2 billion.

The meeting, which had been scheduled for April 18, is now slated for June 13.

Knight-Vinke Asset Management, a shareholder that opposes the deal, said it "views this announcement as recognition by the board of overwhelming lack of shareholder support for its agenda."

The private equity consortium, which calls itself Valcon Acquisition, is comprised of AlpInvest Partners, Blackstone Group, Carlyle Group, Hellman & Friedman, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and Thomas H. Lee Partners.

The consortium’s offer has until May 5 to garner support from 95% of VNU's shareholders. However, influential shareholders, including Fidelity International, which owns 15% of the stock, and Knight-Vinke Asset Management, which owns about 2%, have called the buyout offer inadequate.

—Matthew Schwartz

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