Nielsen begins IPO roadshow


The first media company IPO in recent years has moved to the launching pad. The Nielsen Company, whose stock offering has been pending since last June, has begun its roadshow and set a pricing range.

In its most recent update with the SEC, Nielsen says it plans to sell 71.4 million (plus) shares of new stock, which will trade on the NYSE as “NLSN.” As previously reported, the $2 billion offering will also include $250 million of mandatory convertible subordinated bonds, which convert to stock in 2013. (An additional $37.5 million of bonds has been registered to cover overallotments.)

It is estimated that the new stock will price in a range of $20-22. That, of course, could change at any time up until the issue is actually priced. As is the usual case, Nielsen has registered

The private equity funds who bought Nielsen in 2006 will be holding onto a substantial majority stake in the company. They and company management will keep 276.2 million shares. (The equity funds will hold over 270.7 million, or about 78% of the total equity post-IPO.) At the low end of the anticipated IPO range, $20, those shares would be worth over $5.5 billion.

With the IPO on the launching pad, Moody’s Investors Service put Nielsen’s debt under review, with upgrades possible as the stock sale proceeds pay down some debt.

Nielsen last reported financial results for TV ratings division and other businesses in October. Since that time the company shut down its US radio ratings business.

The company has now begun its IPO roadshow, but there is no indication when the new stock will be priced and begin trading.

RBR-TVBR observation: Hold onto your hats. This is a big IPO, but if it is well received it won’t be the last media company to sell new stock on Wall Street. Up until now the media company action during the economic recovery has been in the bond market.