On the eve of the ad industry's annual research conference, one of its top players - NOP World, the parent of Mediamark Research Inc. (MRI) - has been sold. In a deal announced quietly on Friday, United Business Media said it sold NOP World to Germany's GfK Aktiengesellschaft for about $728 million. The deal ends months of speculation about the fate of NOP, which also operates market research units NOP Research, Roper/ASW and others, including speculation that it might be acquired by VNU, the parent of Nielsen's marketing and media research units.
The deal appears to be a good one for the NOP units. Unlike United Business Media, which was involved in unaligned businesses such as public relations and tech publishing, GfK is a pure play market research company focused on becoming a bigger, more integrated player.
An executive familiar with the deal, says it provides a stable ownership structure for MRI, the leading provider of magazine audience research in the U.S. Among other things, MRI was a rumored target of both IPSOS and VNU.