NEWS11 November 2008

WPP exchanges AGB stake for Nielsen businesses

Gives up share of TV ratings venture to comply with EU competition rules

US/UK— WPP is exchanging its 50% stake in AGB Nielsen Media Research for ownership of other Nielsen businesses, in order to meet the European Commission’s competition requirements following its takeover of TNS.

The Nielsen Company will now own 100% of the AGB TV audience measurement business, while WPP takes control of media rates provider SRDS, healthcare marketing insight firm PERQ/HCI and an 11% share in subsidiaries of Latin American research group Ibope (of which it already owns 31%). These assets become part of WPP’s Kantar research group.

WPP was told by the European Commission in September that it would have to get rid of either TNS’s European TV audience measurement business, or its own stake in AGB, if it were to acquire TNS.

In anticipation of such competition issues, WPP’s offer document for TNS included an option to sell the TNS TAM business to Ipsos for up to €117m, but this has not been exercised.

The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of the year. Nielsen CEO David Calhoun said AGB would be an “important asset” to the firm. Eric Salama, CEO of Kantar, said the decision to dispose of the stake in AGB was “a difficult one”, but that the acquisition of TNS offered a great opportunity to develop media research at Kantar.

Author: Robert Bain

Related links:

WPP’s research boss welcomes TNS to the Kantar fold

Merged WPP-TNS ‘must sell TAM and TNS Ireland’ – EU

Ipsos ready to buy TNS TAM business from WPP