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Nielsen gears up for listing

City A.M. Reporter
NIELSEN plans to raise up to $1.75bn (£1.2bn) in an initial public offering, becoming the latest private-equity backed company to sell shares into a fragile market.

Nielsen is best known for its viewership ratings, which often determine the fate of TV shows. Its top 10 clients – who account for about 23 per cent of its business – include Coca-Cola, NBC Universal, Nestle, News Corp, Procter & Gamble and Unilever.

The Dutch company was taken private in a $10bn deal in 2006 by a group of private equity firms.

Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co and Thomas H Lee Partners first approached management and formed the rest of the consortium. THL and KKR each have about 20 per cent stakes, as do Blackstone Group and Carlyle Group.

Among the others, Hellman & Friedman own about nine per cent and AlpInvest Partners about seven per cent. The rest of the company is held by management team and other directors.

Nielsen, which is loaded down with debt, yesterday declined to comment on how many shares would be sold, whether they would be newly issued, or the timing of the sale.

The US market for IPOs has slowed, with many deals cut or shelved as investors protect their portfolios and wait to see if Europe’s debt crisis will stall economic recovery. That hasn’t stopped private equity portfolio companies from starting the IPO process. Toys R Us last week filed to raise as much as $800m.

Hospital operator HCA and Dutch semiconductor company NXP Semiconductors also recently filed to go public. Coffee chain Dunkin’ Donuts is also considering an IPO, analysts said.