Acquisition of VNU is One Step Closer to Happening; Key Dissenter Changes His Tune

DARLENE GUDEA, PUBLISHER & EDITOR
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Amsterdam, The Netherlands – The chances of a successful buyout of VNU by Valcon Acquisition BV have increased now that the principle dissenter voiced support of the deal today. Previously, Knight Vinke Asset Management, which holds a 1.3 percent stake in VNU, had been urging shareholders to vote against two bids for the firm, claiming both deals undervalue VNU. It had been pushing to sell the  units of VNU individually. Today,  Knight Vinke said selling the shares is the best solution for the  shareholders, and acknowledged the significant support for the offer by other shareholders. Support also came from Templeton Global Advisors, whose funds and accounts  own about 14.7 percent of VNU shares.

Valcon sweetened its bid on May 4th, from EUR 7.5 billion to EUR 8.7 billion, including net indebtedness, and  lowered the required acceptance level from 95 percent of shareholders to 80 percent.

Valcon is controlled by a private equity group consisting of affiliated funds of AlpInvest Partners NV, The Blackstone Group LP, The Carlyle Group, Hellman & Friedman LLC, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. LP and Thomas H. Lee Partners, LP. Robert Krakoff, who  heads up private investment company Blantyre Partners, which is backed by consortium member Blackstone Group,  is  involved in negotiations through Blackstone. He formerly headed Advanstar Communications, was  Vice Chairman of Reed Elsevier Inc. and  Chief Executive of Reed Exhibition Companies. If the sales goes through, Krakoff is expected to have a key management role.

VNU declined to comment. An announcment is expected next week.

VNU is the parent company of VNU Expositions  which produces over 70 events in the U.S., Europe and Asia including GlobalShop,  Medtrade and ShoWest and has a 58 percent stake in nearly 100 other expositions.  VNU also owns ACNielsen, Nielsen Media Research and print publications such as Adweek, Billboard and The Hollywood Reporter.