Nielsen to sell Expositions unit


NielsenOnex Corp., Canada’s biggest buyout firm, has agreed to acquire Nielsen’s tradeshow unit for $950 million in cash. Onex Partners III, Onex’ $4.7 billion private-equity fund, will put about $350 million of equity into the purchase, the Toronto-based company said in a statement. The amount includes about $85 million from Onex as a limited partner in the fund.

Nielsen Expositions, based in San Juan Capistrano, California, produces more than 65 business-to-business tradeshows and conferences a year in markets including general merchandise, sports, hospitality and retail design. The company, with about 240 employees, had revenue of $183 million last year and adjusted EBITDA of $97 million.

Onex’s “experience and successful track record in executing similar corporate carve-outs and building those divisions into industry-leading businesses position it as a strong partner,” David Loechner, president of Nielsen Expositions, said in a statement.

Nielsen Holdings, the biggest provider of U.S. television ratings, was working with Credit Suisse Group AG to sell the unit, people familiar with the process said in March. Onex expects the deal to close in Q2.

“Divesting the expositions business allows us to focus on these core areas that provide our clients with a comprehensive understanding of consumers,” said Brian West, Nielsen’s CFO.

RBR-TVBR observation: Nielsen’s Q1 net income was up a healthy 36%, but its Expositions segment saw a 7% decrease, a continuing trend. So, the company is shedding the unit and focusing more on its core business of ratings. The revenue from the sale will also make the debt numbers look better with the impending Arbitron acquisition.