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Nielsen Gets FTC OK For $1.3B Arbitron Buy

Ratings Firm Must Make Some Arbitron Technology, Data Available For Licensing 9/20/2013 6:34 PM Eastern

Nielsen said it reached an agreement with the Federal Trade Commission that will enable the completion of the ratings firm’s $1.3-billion acquisition of Arbitron, another audience measurement company.

Nielsen said it expects to close the Arbitron purchase, agreed to nine montha ago, on Sept. 30. Nielsen, the dominant player in worldwide television audience measurement, is buying Arbitron stock for $48 per share and through the acquisition will extend deeper into radio-audience measurement and add Arbitron’s portable people meter technology to its metering arsenal.

Nielsen was not required to divest any of its business in the agreement. Nielsen said the FTC’s order “effectively enables the continuation of a cross-platform project measuring TV, radio, PC, mobile and tablet engagement which was announced by Arbitron in concert with ESPN and comScore Inc. in September 2012. In the event that an FTC-approved third-party elects to agree to licensing terms and other requirements, Nielsen would make available for license Arbitron PPM and related data as well as software and technology currently being used in the ESPN project for the sole purpose of cross-platform measurement for up to eight years.”

Nielsen CEO David Calhoun said in a release: “We are very pleased with the FTC action, which meets our original expectations at the time of the merger agreement. This is a highly acceptable outcome for us as it doesn’t change the market landscape and allows us to proceed with the deal. The area of cross-platform measurement is still in its early stages and its value is yet to be determined by the market. We at Nielsen look forward to pursuing the value of cross-platform services through our own unique offerings and expect that with our resources, our deep knowledge of video and our commitment to innovation, we will help the market ultimately define what cross-platform represents.”

Earlier Friday, The Wall Street Journal and Variety said Nielsen has plans, next week, to say more about its efforts to release cross-measurement ratings, including mobile devices, in fall 2014.

Analyst Todd Juenger at Bernstein Research predicted last month that if the Arbitron deal were approved without onerous conditions that Nielsen's stock (which closed Friday, before the news came out, at $35.87) would rise significantly, as much as about $4 per share, or 16 times Nielsen's projected earnings per share gain of 26 cents per share from the acquisition.

 

September