The buyer of Nielsen’s movie research arm Nielsen NRG now has a face, and at least one of those faces is someone we told you was kicking the tires during the sale process: the Stagwell Group, whose managing partner and president is political analyst Mark Penn, announced today it is acquiring the unit. Terms were not disclosed, but Howard Ballon, the onetime NRG exec, has been appointed Interim CEO upon closing of the transaction.
The plan is to have NRG operate as an independent entity under the umbrella of the Stagwell family of companies.
The Stagwell group, an investment adviser, was formed in December 2014 by Penn. The PE fund previously announced it has raised $250 million in capital and said it may leverage that to make up to $750 million in acquisitions. Earlier this year, Stagwell acquired strategic communications firm SKDKnickerbocker LLC.
NRG is one of the largest companies that provides movie studios with market research about their releases. It has been on the block since June when Nielsen hired banker Jordan Edmiston to explore a sale. Around the same time NRG laid off about a dozen staffers in its Los Angeles office.
Among the companies who explored a deal was market research firm PSB Research, which Penn and Doug Schoen created 35 years ago. It’s part of WPP Group’s Young & Rubicam and provides info on everything from political issues and campaigns to movie openings.
Now Penn is using another entity to land NRG after a five-month sale process.
“We are excited to welcome NRG into the Stagwell family of companies and as a market research practitioner for the last 40 years I’m particularly pleased to add these key capabilities,” said Penn. “NRG has been a global leader in Hollywood market research and we see product innovation as a key ingredient for success in a rapidly changing entertainment marketing landscape.”