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Nielsen CEO David Calhoun Lands At Private-Equity Giant Blackstone

By | Thursday November 21, 2013 @ 8:39am PST

David Calhoun did a lot of good turning around Nielsen‘s fortunes when he joined as CEO of the ratings company in 2006 after being a top lieutenant at Jack Welch’s GE. (In this town, that success did not trickle down to one of Nielsen’s holdings, trade mag The Hollywood Reporter, which continued to bleed money and staff under Nielsen control until it was sold off with other publications for a song three years later.) Calhoun, already set to step down as Nielsen CEO on January 1, will join Blackstone Group to head its portfolio-operations group, the Wall Street Journal is reporting today. He will be tasked with boosting some of the company’s 77 holdings while also consulting on new buyouts. He will retain the executive chairman title at Nielsen as part of the deal. Earlier this month, Nielsen said company veteran Mitch Barnes would succeed Calhoun as CEO; the ratings company has been taking steps to update its business, acquiring Arbitron for $1.3B as it wades into the cross-platform measurement game including for mobile TV, and striking a deal with previous dark horse Walmart to shepherd previously private data on the giant retailer’s sales. Blackstone was one of the PE firms who bought Nielsen, then known as VNU, in 2006, with Calhoun contributing a sizable amount of his own money into the deal. Nielsen went public in January 2011 and under Calhoun’s nearly seven-year run as boss … Read More »

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Comcast Agrees To Pay Blackstone $1B For 50% Of Universal Orlando

Executives at Universal Orlando can breathe a little easier this evening now that Comcast has agreed to pay The Blackstone Group $1.025 billion for its 50% stake in the theme park. The deal consolidating ownership at Comcast-controlled NBCUniversal means the park will be able to hang on to licensing agreements with other entertainment companies — including one with Warner Bros for a Harry Potter attraction – that might have been lost if the ownership had changed. Blackstone said in March that it wanted to sell its stake, which triggered a clause in its contract that gave Comcast until June 12 to decide whether it would exercise its right of first refusal. The investment firm ended up tripling the investment in the park that it made in 2000. NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke says the agreement “confirms our long-term commitment to Universal Orlando and the theme park business.” The companies expect the deal to close on July 1. Comcast will finance it with cash at NBCUniversal, the entertainment company’s line of credit, and a one-year $400 million note that Comcast is providing to NBCU — a joint venture with General Electric. NBCU will wind up owning Universal Orlando’s Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and the Universal CityWalk.

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Private-equity Blackstone Group Wants Out of Universal Orlando

By | Wednesday March 16, 2011 @ 2:02pm PDT

A holding company that oversees the theme parks said in a regulatory filing this week that the private-equity group has offered to sell its 50% stake in the Florida parks to NBC Universal, which owns the rest of the venture. Comcast-owned NBCU has until June 12 to make a call on that offer; after that, Blackstone can try and sell off all of Universal Orlando to a third party.

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