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TV ratings provider Nielsen expands review to include company sale

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Nielsen Holdings Plc will expand a review of strategic alternatives to include a sale of the entire TV ratings company, the firm told Reuters on Tuesday, after coming under pressure to do so from hedge fund Elliott Management Corp.
Nielsen, best known for providing audience figures that are used to determine advertising rates for TV commercials, has been seeking to adapt to the media industry’s shift to digital advertising and video consumption on mobile devices.
Nielsen said in a statement it was working with investment banks JPMorgan Chase & Co and Guggenheim Securities LLC, as well as law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, on an “expanded” review of strategic alternatives.
The company had said previously it was only exploring a sale of its “buy” segment, which provides marketing data on what customers purchase, and not its “watch” segment, which offers viewership and listenership data and analytics across television, radio, online and mobile devices.
The expanded review includes an assessment of a broad range of options, including continuing to operate as a public, independent company, a separation of either Nielsen’s buy or watch segment, or a sale of the company, Nielsen said, cautioning that no deal is certain.
Elliott unveiled a stake in Nielsen last month and called on the company to explore a sale in its entirety. The hedge fund declined to comment on Tuesday.
Nielsen faces competition from start-ups using automated content recognition (ACR) to track viewing habits via mobile devices and smart TVs. It acquired Gracenote in 2017 in a bid to bolster its ACR capabilities.
As viewer habits change, Nielsen has also made a move to cover shows watched on online streaming services, via platforms such as Netflix or via games consoles.
Nielsen is heavily indebted, the legacy of a leveraged buyout in 2006 by six private equity firms; Carlyle Group LP , Blackstone Group LP, KKR & Co Inc, Thomas H. Lee Partners LP, AlpInvestPartners and Hellman & Friedman LLC.
They took Nielsen public in 2011, and the company now has a market capitalization of $9.4 billion and total debt of $8.66 billion.
Nielsen has received some interest from private equity firms for a new leveraged buyout of the entire company, according to people familiar with the approaches who requested anonymity to discuss them. However, such a deal would represent one of the biggest leveraged buyouts of recent years, and it is unclear whether such a transaction can be put together.
James Attwood, executive chairman of Nielsen’s board, is leading the review, the company said. Attwood is a managing director at Carlyle and the former head of its global telecommunications, media, and technology group, according to the company’s website. Nielsen said in July that is CEO Mitch Barns will step down at the end of the year. Attwood has been leading the search for Barns’ successor.


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India can’t achieve 9-10 per cent GDP growth without agri-revolution: Kant

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New Delhi: India cannot achieve 9-10 per cent GDP growth without revolution in the farm sector, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said.


Addressing Mahindra Samriddhi Agri awards, he said there is a need to boost investment in the agriculture sector as well as to introduce new technology and market reforms.


Kant also stressed on scrapping Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee and some old laws like Essential Commodites Act, which restrict movement of farm produces.

 


However, he said agriculture is a state subject and the central government has limited role in it.


“In India 50 per cent of our population is dependent on agriculture. If India’s GDP has to grow at 9-10 per cent for the next 30 years, then it cannot be without bringing revolution in the agri sector,” Kant said.


He also emphasised on eliminating middlemen in marketing of farm produces to boost farmers’ income.


Kant expressed confidence that farmer income will be doubled by 2022.
He said there is a need to spread good agriculture practice and success stories of farmers across the country.


“The second revolution in agriculture will come from technology and marketing,” Kant said.


Pawan Goenka, Managing Director, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd,, said: “The contribution made by our farming community is a manifestation of this new age of farming which we celebrate through our annual awards”.


As part of Mahindra Agri Village (MAV) programme, he said the company has worked closely with more than 50 villages.


“Our Prerna initative has empowered nearly 2,000 women farmers over 40 villages, through the introduction of gender-neutral farm tools for reducing farm drudgery, and dissemination of knowledge and essential capabilities,” Goenka said.


Mahindra Samriddhi Krishi Shiromani Samman (Lifetime Achievement Award) 2019 was conferred upon E A Siddiq for his immense contribution to Indian agriculture. The award was handed over to recognise his contribution of enhancing productivity of paddy (Both Basmati & Non Basmati).


The group gave awards in total 11 categories.

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Mukesh Ambani bails out Anil in Ericsson payout case day before SC deadline

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Mumbai: Billionaire Mukesh Ambani stepped in to bail out younger brother Anil Ambani by helping him repay Reliance Communications’ (RCom’s) dues to Ericsson. The last-minute rescue spares the younger Ambani a three-month jail term for contempt of court.


RCom cleared the entire dues to Ericsson India to purge the contempt of a Supreme Court order. The debt-ridden company had already paid Rs 118 crore of the Rs 550-crore dues. In addition, the company had paid around Rs 3 crore in penalties to Ericsson.


“My sincere and heartfelt thanks to my respected elder brother, Mukesh, and Nita for standing by me during these trying times and demonstrating the importance of staying true to our strong family values by extending this timely support,” said Anil Ambani in a media statement. RCom had time until Tuesday to make the payment, failing which Anil Ambani, its chairman, would have had to serve a three-month jail term, according to the court’s order.

 
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Probing Amazon, Flipkart for alleged violation of foreign exchange law: ED

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New Delhi : Investigation has been initiated against e-commerce giants Amazon and Flipkart for alleged violation of foreign exchange law, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) Monday informed the Delhi High Court.


A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice A J Bhambhani noted the submissions of the ED that a case has been registered under provisions of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) against the two companies and disposed of a PIL which has alleged that the e-commerce giants were violating foreign direct investment (FDI) norms.


The court had earlier sought response of the central government, Amazon and Flipkart to the plea which has sought a probe into the alleged FDI violations.

 


The ED, in its reply filed through central government standing counsel Amit Mahajan, has said the “department has already registered and initiated investigation under the provisions of FEMA against the two companies to ascertain whether they have been contravening any provisions of FEMA or contravening any rule, regulations, notification, direction or order issued in exercise of the powers under FEMA….”
The agency also sought dismissal of the petition.


The petition by an NGO, Telecom Watchdog, also asked for initiation of legal proceedings against the two e-commerce companies under the FEMA for alleged violation and circumvention of FDI norms.


The plea, filed through advocate Pranav Sachdeva, has claimed that Amazon and Flipkart have created multiple entities to circumvent the FDI norms and route the hot-selling stock at cheaper rates.


The petition has contended that according to Press Note 3 of 2016, which regulates FDI in e-commerce, entities like Amazon and Flipkart are not to exercise ownership over stock, nor directly or indirectly influence price of goods and services sold on their marketplace.


It claimed that by creating name lending companies, Amazon and Flipkart buy branded goods in bulk at discounts from manufacturers and render small sellers uncompetitive by a wide margin, thus influencing the prices in violation of the FDI norms.


“As a consequence of this FDI norms violation, smaller sellers are unable to participate in the fast growing e-commerce sector,” the plea has contended, adding that due to subsidised prices on such platforms, small sellers are unable to sell in the brick-n-mortar world too.


Besides, the plea has also claimed that the two e-commerce firms have created several other group companies in the chain to divide discounts and losses.


“Exchange offers, EMI costs and bank offers are funded completely or substantially by Amazon and Flipkart and constitute a clear influence on price in violation of FDI norms,” it has alleged.

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