Taylor Nelson Sofres plc acquires NFO WorldGroup


LONDON: Taylor Nelson Sofres plc (TNS), a world leader in market information, announced the proposed acquisition of NFO WorldGroup, Inc. (NFO) from The Interpublic Group of Companies, Inc. (Interpublic), for $425m. The UK-based company TNS claims to be one of the world's largest research companies, conducting political polls and opinion surveys, monitoring Internet advertising and measuring TV audience viewership.

A press release says that on the basis of 2002 revenues, the acquisition will consolidate TNS' position as one of the top three global companies in its industry.

TNS chairman Tony Cowling was quoted as saying: "We are delighted to be acquiring NFO, a high quality company with a strong management team. As well as bringing into the group one of the US' leading access panels, the acquisition is in line with the strategy that has delivered profitable growth over the past few years. We believe that, by combining NFO with TNS, we will be able to generate significant cost and revenue synergies and that this latest step in the group's development provides an excellent opportunity to create further shareholder value."

The release says that the strategic rationale is as follows:

* Brings to TNS one of the leading US access panels and strengthens its internet data collection capabilities.

* Reinforces TNS' network in the US, the world's largest market for market information, in Asia, where demand for market information is fast growing, and in Europe.

* Increases TNS' competitive advantage by adding depth to sector expertise and expanding global key account activities.

* Offers increased opportunity to develop continuous tracking services.

* Widens client base for a broader portfolio of branded solutions

Media reports indicate that this move will ensure that NFO India and TNS Mode will come under a single roof. The combined entity, billed as the largest customised research company in India, will rank third after the VNU-owned AC Nielsen India (formed from the merger of AC Nielsen and ORG-MARG) and the WPP-owned Indian Market Research Bureau (IMRB).

The release also mentions that the directors expect the acquisition to be earnings enhancing in the current financial year, before goodwill charges, synergies and restructuring costs, and significantly earnings enhancing from 2004 on the same basis. It says that the directors expect the acquisition to deliver annualised synergies of more than ?3m by the end of 2003 and in excess of ?10m in 2004, resulting primarily from operational costs efficiencies. The directors expect initial one-off integration costs of approximately ?5-6m in 2003.

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