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VNU to Make $7B Buy For Health

Dutch media giant and information firm VNU has agreed to purchase data provider IMS Health for $7 billion, solidifying its position as the world's largest market research company, the companies announced today.

VNU, parent company of market research kingpin ACNielsen, added the world's premier supplier of health care market information to its roster for $600 million worth of its own shares, and a borrowed $3 billion from several financial institutions.

"This merger of two industry leaders gives us the scale and capabilities to meet growing client demand for the must-have market intelligence that drives critical business decisions," VNU CEO Rob van den Bergh, who will be CEO of the combined company, said in a statement.

Van den Bergh said the joint company would generate estimated revenues of $5.6 billion a year. The acquisition should also bolster the IMS franchise of health care-related information assets, analytical tools and consulting and service capabilities.

The Connecticut-based IMS currently tracks over 1 million prescription-drug brands daily and has cornered over 70 percent of pharmaceutical sales transactions worldwide in more than 100 countries, according to the company.

The combined company is expected to be a world leader in providing market intelligence.

"Together, we will be able to measure our clients performance in three key sectors of the global economy -- consumer packaged goods, health care and media -- and offer superior insights into the consumer behavior that drives these markets," van den Bergh said.

"And with the expertise of our combined teams, we will be able to create a new generation of advanced analytical services and accelerate the development of our advisory and consulting capabilities."

ACNielsen, acquired by VNU in 2001, already provides market research on consumer purchasing behavior to more than 9,000 clients in more than 100 countries in the consumer packaged goods, financial services, automotive, IT, telecommunications, travel and pharmaceutical industries.

"Our companies know each other well and are already working together successfully in various markets around the world," said David Carlucci, IMS CEO and president who will be deputy CEO and COO of the combined company, in a statement. "Our clients will benefit from the integration of our data assets and expertise, while gaining a better understanding of consumer behavior

New revenue opportunities generated from the merger will be built through cross-selling products and services, geographic expansion, and the development of new products, according to Carlucci.

VNU global reach analytical resources will be an immediate boon for IMS, he said.