Nielsen Negotiates With FTC To Secure OK On Arbitron Deal

Nielsen looks to be negotiating with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on an agreement that would have it taking some action to get the federal agency’s blessing to go through with its proposed acquisition of Arbitron.

What possible consent decree Nielsen would enter into is not clear, although it could involve a divestiture or promise to provide other research entities access to data or technology such as Arbitron’s portable people meter (PPM).

Nielsen was to get a sense where the FTC stood on its proposed $1.26 billion deal by the end of August. On Friday, the measurement company said it has agreed with the FTC to extend the review process into next month. It did not specify how long the extension would be for.

Nielsen did say it continues to be confident the deal will go through. The news did not hurt Nielsen’s stock in the immediate half hour after the announcement, as the share price was up slightly.

Nielsen is on the hook for a break-up fee of $131 million if the Arbitron deal is blocked. The FTC could have moved to block the merger, but the announcement of the extension would seem to signal Nielsen’s intention to avoid a court battle.

In late July, Nielsen CEO David Calhoun said of the FTC review process that it has been “very workmanlike and nothing has surfaced over the course of that process that is either surprising or different than anything we thought about going into it.”

Nielsen has agreed to pay Arbitron shareholders $48 a share, and it was up slightly over $47 after the Friday announcement, a signal that investors believe the deal will go through



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