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VNU shareholders rebel over IMS bid

Published on 13/10/05 at 01:39pm

A significant minority of shareholders in VNU are against its planned $7 billion acquisition of pharmaceutical information company IMS Health.

The merger is intended to strengthen VNU's position in the lucrative US market, where around 40% of IMS's revenue is generated through selling sales data to manufacturers and analysts.

VNU hopes its expansion into the specialist market of pharmaceutical data will produce new growth for its business. The purchase would nearly double the size of the company and allow it to meet a growing demand for up-to-the-minute global sales data on prescription drugs.

But the Dutch media and consumer market research company will have to convince companies holding nearly a third of its shares that the takeover makes financial sense.

Investors Fidelity International and Fidelity Management Research said they wanted "to go on record to express their opposition to the proposed purchase".

Fidelity holds just short of 15% of VNU's ordinary shares and its attitude is shared by a number of other investors with a stake in VNU.

Knight Vinke Asset Management, which holds about 2% of the Dutch firm, wants the deal to be radically changed and promises to vote against it if it is not. Templeton Global Advisors have 10% of VNU's shares and it too has said it is not in favour of the merger in its current form.

VNU's management team remains convinced of the deals logic and will continue trying to persuade shareholders to accept it.

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