GfK Shares Gain Most Since March After M&A Interest Report

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  • Nielsen, IMS Health, WPP’s Kantar eyeing takeover: report
  • German researcher and its biggest investor decline to comment

GfK SE shares rose the most since March after a magazine reported that its majority owner GfK Association is mulling strategic options for Germany’s biggest market researcher, including a merger or a stake sale.

GfK, known for its consumer-confidence surveys, jumped as much as 8.4 percent, the steepest intraday gain since March 3, after WirtschaftsWoche said Nielsen Holdings Plc, IMS Health Holdings Inc, and WPP Plc’s Kantar unit are considering buying the Nuremberg, Germany-based company.

Kantar denied the report, saying in an e-mail it’s “not correct,” without elaborating. IMS Health declined to comment. Nielsen didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Investors including private-equity firms KKR and BC Partners tried to invest in GfK this spring to delist it, but the move failed after resistance from the GfK Association, WirtschaftsWoche said. GfK Association, a non-profit organization consisting of about 600 companies and individuals that owns 56.46 percent of GfK, declined to comment, as did a spokesman for the market researcher.

The report comes two weeks after GfK Chief Executive Officer Matthias Hartmann and supervisory board Chairman Arno Mahlert resigned after falling out with the company’s majority owner.

GfK rose 5.9 percent to 29.11 euros at 5:20 p.m. in Frankfurt, giving the company a market value of about 1.1 billion euros ($1.2 billion).