USA/Germany: NielsenIQ and GfK Receive Approval for Merger

NielsenIQ, the global leader in consumer intelligence based in Chicago, USA, and GfK SE, the largest German market research company headquartered in Nuremberg, Germany, have announced a definitive agreement to merge their operations and introduce new capabilities in the consumer and retail measurement industry.

The merger capitalizes on NielsenIQ's proficiency in measuring fast-moving consumer goods across 90 countries and GfK's expertise in technology and durable goods across 67 countries. The combined company has over USD 4 billion in sales and 30,000+ clients covering 100+ countries.

After more than a year since the initial merger announcement, GfK and NielsenIQ, now known as NIQ, have received approval from the European Union for the merger, according to a statement by GfK. This development clears the way for the completion of the transaction. However, there was a condition that GfK must divest its Consumer Panel business (GfK CP) to an independent third party to prevent a monopoly in the Consumer Panel sector in certain European countries.

Subsequently, it was announced that GfK's Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) business, gathered through its Consumer Panel in 100,000 households across 16 European countries, has been sold to the British institute YouGov. The transaction is reportedly valued at USD 342 million, a price deemed favorable by industry experts. However, it is important to note that the deal is still pending and is anticipated to be concluded in the latter half of this year.

In the press release, it is stated, "The divestment of GfK CP, which accounted for approximately 15% of GfK's annual revenue, does not change the overall attractiveness of our merger." GfK had approximately 1,000 employees working on the Consumer Panel, with 300 of them based in Germany alone. The process of separating this business unit is expected to take some time.

NIQ/GfK have confirmed their commitment to maintaining a Consumer Panel as a crucial element, acknowledging that the process of rebuilding it will be challenging and likely to span several years. In Germany alone, GfK conducted surveys involving 50,000 households and 100,000 individuals. The Consumer Panel has been operational in Germany since 1957.

In the future, customers in the FMCG sector will not only have the choice between YouGov and the newly developed panel by NIQ/GfK. Another player in the market is IRI, which recently merged with NPD and operates under the name Circana. Although IRI only has a retail panel, not a consumer panel, for FMCG in Europe, providing data on the actual sales of goods from many, but not all, retailers, it is already being used as the sole service provider by numerous customers today.

The name of the new merged corporation has not yet been communicated. However, Nielsen IQ recently changed its name to NIQ and unveiled a new logo while GfK said today, that “NielsenIQ and GfK together offer the Full View™, the world’s most complete and clear view of consumer buying behavior combined with unparalleled omnichannel coverage, data platforms, and predictive analytics.”

The company's executive leadership team has been chosen from both NIQ and GfK. Jim Peck, the CEO of NIQ, will head the merged company, supported by a leadership team from the industry.

The combined company will retain important operational bases in Chicago, USA, Nuremberg, Germany, and Geneva, Switzerland.

Jim Peck, Executive Chairman and CEO of NielsenIQ, is enthusiastic about the merger and the potential of combining their market-leading capabilities. He emphasizes the opportunity to expedite innovation, deliver substantial value to stakeholders, and shape the future of global retail and consumer measurement. The merger will bring together NielsenIQ's cloud-based Connect platform and omnichannel measurement technologies with GfK's recently launched gfknewron platform, establishing an analytics leader. The integrated solutions will offer a detailed and consistent view of consumer purchasing behavior across various channels and categories, enabling real-time decision-making to drive performance and growth. The combined company will unite a diverse range of talent and expertise with a proven track record in measurement and analytics.

Lars Nordmark, Interim CEO and CFO of GfK, views the merger as a logical progression for their company following a successful digital transformation towards profitable and sustainable growth. He believes that joining forces with NielsenIQ will empower their customers to make smarter decisions on a global scale and expedite their journey of innovation, opening up significant growth opportunities.

Advent International, the majority shareholder of NielsenIQ since its acquisition in 2021, will retain its majority ownership in the merged company. Advent recognizes the immense potential in leveraging the strong brands and cutting-edge platforms of both companies to establish a global leader in consumer and retail data. They intend to leverage their global presence and operational strength to expand the business in established and emerging markets.

NIM (Gesellschaft für Konsumforschung mbH), GfK's majority shareholder, will remain a key shareholder in the new entity. NIM's involvement will further drive and accelerate the development of NIM as a leading international research institute.

KKR, the global investment firm that took GfK private alongside NIM in 2017, will continue as a minority shareholder.

Despite the European Commission's conditional clearance, which requires GfK to divest its Consumer Panel business to an independent third party, NielsenIQ and GfK remain optimistic that this condition will not impede the completion of their merger. Both companies are now actively taking the necessary measures to ensure a timely and smooth closure of the transaction.

Share this article: