MB Funds sells Suomen Gallup stake

Finnish private equity and mezzanine investor, MB Funds has sold its shares in Suomen Gallup, the Finnish opinion and market research company.

The holding company of Suomen Gallup group, MDC Research Group Oy, has been acquired by Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS), plc, an international market information group, quoted on the London Stock Exchange. The sellers in the transaction are MB Funds, Suomen Gallup Management, and Markkinointi-instituutin Kannatusyhdistys.

The turnover of Suomen Gallup group for the financial year ending March 31, 2000 was FIM184.7 million and the number of employees was 680, with 250 based in Finland. In the share purchase agreement, the price was set at 50.5 MEUR on a debt-free basis.

MB Funds purchased an 80% shareholding in the company in June 1999, with the management of the company. The vendor, Markkinointi-instituutin Kannatusyhdistys, a non-profit organisation backing a leading business education institute in Finland, maintained a 20% in the company.

The price of MB Funds’ shareholding was not disclosed. The financing consisted of equity, mezzanine and bank debt. Equity was provided by MB Equity Fund Ky, mezzanine by Leonia MB Group Oy, and senior debt financing by Leonia Bank.

MB Funds is one of the leading private equity investors in Finland and Scandinavia. Investors in the funds mainly consist of Finnish pension and insurance companies and other institutional investors. MB Funds’ other investments in Finland include i.a. Engel Group, Panda, Finnish chemicals, Medivire Occupational Health Services, CPS Color Group and Enermet.

As a result of the transaction, Suomen Gallup will become part of the worldwide TNS group. The company will gain access to research products and development resources of the group as well as its worldwide network. TNS group has no overlapping activities in Suomen Gallup’s geographical markets in Finland, the Baltic countries and Russia.

TNS is the largest market information group based in Europe and the fourth largest according to worldwide statistics. The group’s market research activities cover 80 countries and it has local presence in more than 45 countries.

Suomen Gallup was founded in 1945 by Artturi Raula. Over 50 years old, the company is the mother company of the Gallup Group in Finland. The group has contributed significantly to the development of marketing and media research not only in Finland, but also in the Baltic countries and Russia.