Nielsen said its board of directors have expanded its strategic review beyond to disposition of the company’s buy segment and could lead to a sale of the company.
The expanded review includes an assessment of a broad range of options, including continuing to operate as a public, independent company; a separation of either Nielsen's Buy or Watch segment; or a sale of the company, the company said.
Nielsen in July launched the review of its buy segment, which has been a drag on the company’s earnings. In the second quarter buy segment revenue was down 4.1% to $789 million. Nielsen’s buy segment provides marketing information about what people buy on a global basis.
Nielsen’s stock plunged when it announced the strategic review, lower earnings and CEO Mitch Barns’ plans to retire.
Following those announcements in August, hedge fund Elliott Management announced it owned an 8.8% stake in Nielsen and urged the company to put itself up for sale.
Nielsen said its expanded strategic review is being led by James Attwood, executive chairman of the board. The company has hired J.P. Morgan Securities LLC and Guggenheim Securities LLC as financial advisers, and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz as legal counsel in connection with the review.
"The Board continues to support the company's strategic priorities, including Total Audience, the Connected System and our operational transformation, including cost out initiatives and consolidations designed to increase agility. However, the Board believes that a broad review of strategic alternatives is in the best interest of the company and its shareholders," said Attwood. "As the Board conducts its review, we and our valued associates remain focused on providing clients with the most complete understanding of what consumers watch and buy with mission critical data that enables markets around the world to act faster, more efficiently and with greater confidence."
Nielsen’s board said it is moving “expeditiously” but has not set a timetable for the completion of the review and that there was no assurance the review will result in a transaction.