Shares of Nielsen (NYSE: NLSN), the company best known for providing TV ratings and other data on consumer habits, were heading lower on Thursday after The New York Post reported that The Blackstone Group, the private-equity giant, was losing interest in a potential takeover of Nielsen. The Post also said that Apollo Global Management, another private-equity group, also seemed to be deciding against making a bid for the consumer research company.
As a result, the stock was down 9.8% as of 11:43 a.m. EDT.
Nielsen said last July that it would seek strategic options, including a potential sale, as the company is contending with increasing competition and difficulty raising its prices as its customers tighten their belts. The decision also came from pressure from Elliott Management, a hedge fund and major shareholder in Nielsen.
In January, Blackstone Group expressed interest and was reportedly putting together a $10 billion bid with the help of buyout firm Hellman & Friedman. Now, Blackstone appears to be balking at an acquisition due to Nielsen's $8 billion debt burden and dim growth prospects.
Nielsen's revenue actually slipped 0.9% in 2018, and a $1.4 billion impairment charge in its buy division caused the company to report a loss of $712 million for the year. Nielsen's search for a prospective buyer will continue, but the seeming decision by both Blackstone and Apollo Global to pass on a potential acquisition doesn't bode well for a future sale.
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