NEWS2 November 2020

Nielsen sells Global Connect business

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US – Nielsen has agreed to sell its Nielsen Global Connect business to equity investor Advent International, in partnership with James Peck, former chief executive of TransUnion, for $2.7bn.

David Kenny

Nielsen Global Connect will become a private company following the transaction, which has been approved by Nielsen’s board of directors and is expected to close in the second quarter of 2021.

Nielsen announced its intention to spin off Global Connect and split into two businesses in November 2019 – Global Connect, formerly the ‘Buy’ division, provides data for consumer packaged goods manufacturers and retailers, while Nielsen Global Media focuses on media market metrics.

The company plans to use the net proceeds of the sale primarily to reduce its debt.

David Rawlinson, who became chief executive of Nielsen Global Connect in January, will remain in the position until the deal has been finalised and is expected to be part of the leadership team going forward, according to Nielsen.

When the sale has completed, Peck will be involved in the day-to-day running of the company, however, the details of this have not been disclosed.

David Kenny, chief executive officer, Nielsen (pictured), said: "This is a win for both Nielsen Global Connect and for Nielsen (RemainCo), as well as for our shareholders.

"The sale of this business to Advent will deliver substantial value sooner than was anticipated through the planned spin-off and creates certainty for all stakeholders. The proceeds from the sale will allow Nielsen to significantly reduce debt, which will provide greater financial flexibility to execute our growth strategy and expand our role in the global media marketplace."

Kenny added that becoming a private company would "better position" Nielsen Global Connect to "strengthen its market-leading position".

The Global Connect business will be renamed NielsenIQ in early 2021 and headquartered in Chicago, as previously announced.

Peck said: "We intend to work with David Rawlinson and the management team to accelerate the delivery of new capabilities and to continue the transformation underway."

Chris Egan, managing partner at Advent, said: "Earlier this year we teamed up with Jim to identify a compelling business in the sector where we can apply our combined experience and resources to create value. We see tremendous potential to build on Global Connect’s cutting-edge platform."

Nielsen will allow Nielsen Global Connect a license to use the Nielsen name and other trademarks on its products and services for 20 years after the sale.

As part of the sale, Nielsen and Advent will also agree to provide ‘transitional services’ to each other for up to 24 months following the deal, give each other reciprocal licenses for certain data and corresponding services relating to that data for up to five years, and licenses to use certain patents.    

The sale is subject to approval by Nielsen shareholders, regulatory approvals and other closing conditions.