Arbitron Shareholder Sues to Halt Sale of Company to Nielsen

A shareholder of Arbitron Inc., which measures radio audiences for advertisers, asked a judge to halt the sale of the company to Nielsen Holdings NV, claiming a breakup fee and other deal terms prevent competing offers, according to a lawsuit made public today.

Shareholder Joseph Pace claimed Arbitron’s break-up fee of $32.7 million and a provision in confidentiality agreements signed by other bidders “ensure any legitimate bidder has been effectively shut out of the process.” Pace filed the lawsuit in Delaware Chancery Court in Wilmington.

In December, Nielsen, the biggest tracker of U.S. television ratings, agreed to buy Arbitron Inc. for about $1.26 billion in cash, giving it access to the largest source of data on the country’s radio listeners. The deal requires regulatory approval.

Kim Myers, a media representative for Columbia, Maryland-based Arbitron, said in an e-mail that the company would not comment on the filing.

Pace is asking the court to prevent Arbitron from closing the sale until the company adopts procedures that will “obtain the highest possible price for shareholders.”

The case is Pace v. Arbitron, CA8243, Delaware Chancery Court (Wilmington).

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