Since The Nielsen Company was taken private by a group of private equity firms in 2006, the not-so-secret plan has always been to rework the company for an IPO. Now there are numerous reports – the Financial Times was first – that the company is interviewing investment banks to underwrite an IPO.
A few months after Alpinvest, the Blackstone Group, the Carlyle Group, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Hellman & Friedman and Thomas H. Lee Partners bought out the former public shareholders for around $9 billion, the board and new CEO David Calhoun rebranded the former VNU as The Nielsen Company. That was, as RBR-TVBR noted, seen as the first step toward an eventual IPO.
More recently, The Nielsen Company sold off most of its portfolio of trade publications, which was seen as another step toward an IPO. Offloading the money-losing division cleaned up the company’s financial picture for selling stock to the public.
So, what is the new, improved Nielsen going to be worth? According to the FT, the private equity owners are hoping to value the company at 11-13 times EBITDA, which is expected to be about $1.6 billion this year. That would imply a low end of $17.6 billion and high end of $20.8 billion.
RBR-TVBR observation: This IPO has been in the works for nearly four years, with the private equity owners just waiting for the window to reopen for public stock offerings. There haven’t been many IPOs yet, but the market is improving. It looks like The Nielsen Company will be ready to pull the trigger when the IPO market becomes hot – which could be in just the next few months.