NEWS26 June 2009

Toluna buys Greenfield Online survey business for $40m

M&A North America

US— Online panel firm Toluna has agreed a deal to acquire Greenfield Online’s internet survey business from Microsoft for $40m – one third of what Microsoft originally wanted for it.

Toluna CEO Frederic-Charles Petit told Research the deal, which is set to be completed on 13 July, will make it the “largest independent provider of panels and technology to the market research industry”, with a market share of 11%.

Greenfield was bought in October for $486m by Microsoft, which planned to keep the comparison shopping division and sell off the survey business to private equity firm ZM Capital for $120m – but that deal fell through.

Included in the deal is the Ciao Surveys business, as well as all of Greenfield’s “existing and operating” research operations, Petit told Research.

Toluna said that the deal would create “several million dollars of synergies” once it has been completed. Petit said it was too early to tell whether Greenfield would continue operating under its own name or be integrated into Toluna, but he said he is “a big believer in unifying companies”.

“This is a great step for Toluna,” said Petit, “both from a strategic and corporate standpoint as we expand our reach and shareholder base.”

He said the combination of the two technology firms “is what the industry needs in terms of scale and offering clients stability”. The Toluna boss added that Greenfield’s infrastructure was among “the best I’ve seen” in his time working in the research industry.

Meanwhile, Toluna has raised £28m by selling a 13% stake in its business to Belgian investment house Verlinvest. Frederic de Mevius, Verlinest’s CEO, will become a director of Toluna as a result of the deal.