3i buys VNU divisions

After nearly three months of exclusive talks 3i has backed the EURO195 million management buyout of VNU’s Educational Information Group (EIG). ABN AMRO arranged the acquisition finance facilities. The sale is expected to complete by the end of August following approval from the Netherlands competition authorities and the works council of VNU and EIG.

Dutch media and information group VNU has agreed the sale of EIG, which publishes schoolbooks, youth magazines, CD-Roms and Internet applications. The division consists of education publishing arm LCG Malmberg, based in s-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands, and software business Uitgeveril Van In, based in Wommelgem, Belgium. Last year the group generated net revenues of around EURO76 million and operating income of EURO17 million.

The sale of EIG was part of a strategy to finance VNU’s acquisition of AC Nielsen, a US market research group. This EURO2.6 billion transaction, agreed in December 2000, was financed through a bridging facility. This has largely been repaid through the issue of EURO1.15 million in convertible bonds in May and the sale, in July, of VNU’s Consumer Information Group to the Finnish media group, SanomaWSOY, for EURO1.25 billion. VNU is now focusing on marketing and media information, business information and directories.

Following the MBO EIG hopes to drive its growth strategy forward using its focus on information and communications technology, the strength of its established brands and knowledge of the educational publishing market. EIG’s management team is led in the buyout by Jacques Eijkens, he said: “We believe that having access to 3i’s considerable amount of experience and its international network will be of great help in realising our ambitious plans.” It has been agreed there will be no forced dismissals or changes to the terms of employment following the acquisition. UBS Warburg and PricewaterhouseCoopers advised 3i and ABN AMRO Rothschild advised the vendor.