Nielsen, WPP Swap Some Assets

NEW YORK The Nielsen Co. and WPP Group have signed a definitive agreement to swap certain holdings so that WPP can fulfill regulatory conditions in order to complete its acquisition of market research firm Taylor Nelson Sofres. (Related: “WPP Closes In on TNS.”)

Nielsen will now own 100 percent of AGBNielsen Media Research by acquiring the 50 percent currently held by WPP. The unit provides TV audience measurement services in over two dozen countries in Europe, the Asia Pacific region, the Middle East and Africa.

In return, Nielsen will transfer to WPP the rate and data company SRDS, as well as PERQ/HCI, which provides media research services in the healthcare field. In addition, Nielsen will transfer its 11 percent stake in three units that are part of the IBOPE Group, a Brazil-based firm specializing in market and opinion research. WPP already holds a 31 percent stake in IBOPE.

All of the assets that WPP is acquiring from Nielsen will be added to The Kantar Group, WPP’s information, insight and consultancy division. Kantar is also the unit into which TNS will be merged once that deal is completed, the holding company has said.

In order to complete the TNS transaction, WPP had to dispose of either its AGBNMR stake or TNS’s European television audience measurement business in order to obtain regulatory approval for the deal.

“In an increasingly digital world, it is essential for Nielsen to strengthen its global market position,” said Nielsen chairman and CEO David Calhoun in a statement. “As a fully integrated part of our company, AGBNMR will be an important part of our portfolio and better positioned to offer high quality measurement for its clients.”

Eric Salama, CEO of Kantar, said: “The decision to dispose of our 50 percent stake in AGBNielsen Media Research was a difficult one. However, the strength and breadth of the TNS offer and the quality of the management team provide us with a unique opportunity to develop Kantar Group’s integrated media measurement and insight capability, in which we and our clients believe so strongly.”

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