NEWS14 February 2011

Toluna shareholder makes £161m takeover bid


FRANCE— Toluna looks set to be taken private by an investment group led by minority shareholder Verlinvest in a deal that values the online panel company at around £161m.

A new company, ITWP, has been set up to carry out the acquisition, which is backed by Verlinvest, Invesco Asset Management and Eurovestech. Toluna’s independent directors have recommended that the firm’s shareholders accept the cash and share offer. Verlinvest bought a 13% stake in Toluna in 2009.

Once the deal is complete, Toluna founder and chief executive Frédéric-Charles Petit will become a director at ITWP and continue to lead the company and its management.

ITWP said that with Petit at the helm and further backing from Verlinvest it plans to take “significant steps” to develop and strengthen the company’s core activities – panel and research technology services – as well as investing heavily in the development of new products and tools to bring to market.

The new owners also plan to grow the Toluna business globally, with the Asia Pacific region a key area for expansion.

Verlinvest MD Frédéric de Mevius, also a Toluna non-executive director, said: “We have supported the business since becoming a shareholder in June 2009 and we believe that the business will continue to develop under the strategies pursued by Frédéric-Charles Petit.”

Petit (pictured) said the acquisition was a “great growth and long term investment opportunity” for Toluna.