Valcon wins bid for VNU

Buyout group says majority of shareholders have accepted public offer

A group of private equity firms Sunday declared victory in a contentious bid for Dutch publisher VNU, owner of Nielsen Media Research, the Hollywood Reporter and Billboard.

The group, which calls itself Valcon Acquisition, said that nearly 80% of VNU shareholders had tendered their stock for the offer price of about $37.15 a share. The bid was valued at $9.7 billion overall.

Valcon, which includes KKR, AlpInvest Partners, Blackstone Group, Carlyle Group, Hellman & Friedman and Thomas H. Lee Partners, said in a statement that it will now begin formal legal proceedings to buy out the remaining shareholders and delist VNU, which is traded on the Amsterdam stock exchange.

The Haarlem, Netherlands and New York City-based company’s future has been in question since late last year when a group of institutional shareholders blocked its planned acquisition of IMS Health.

CEO Rob van den Bergh said then he planned to resign but ended up presiding over a sale of the company. He and VNU’s board supported the Valcon offer, which came in March, initially for a lower $9.4 billion.

But Knight Vinke Asset Management, which owns 1.3% of VNU, and a handful of other shareholders rejected the offer. They felt the company could be restructured and its assets sold off.

Valcon raised the bid earlier this month. That offer won the key support of Templeton Global Advisors, which controls a hefty 14.7% of VNU. On Friday, Knight Vinke agreed to tender its shares as well.