Comscore Enters Deal With Charter, Qurate Retail and Cerberus -- Update
By Alexandra Bruell, Miriam Gottfried and Suzanne Vranica
Comscore Inc. announced a deal with Charter Communications Inc.,
Qurate Retail Inc. and private-equity firm Cerberus Capital
Management LP aimed at bolstering the finances of the troubled
media-measurement company and strengthening its commercial
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier Thursday that the
companies were close to a deal.
Charter, Qurate and Cerberus each will make a cash investment in
exchange for shares of convertible preferred stock. Comscore will
use the cash to extinguish its debt and improve its liquidity
position, it said.
Backed by John Malone's Liberty Media Corp., Qurate Retail owns
home-shopping platforms QVC, HSN and e-commerce site Zulily, among
other retail brands.
The deal will free Comscore from its loan arrangement with
activist investor Starboard Value LP, which imposed strict
covenants requiring it to have a minimum cash balance and steep
interest payments, as well as terms for repayment of $204 million
next year, according to securities filings.
Starboard will receive $204 million in cash from the investment
proceeds, as well as accrued interest and 3.15 million common
shares. The transaction is subject to shareholder approval.
As part of the deal, Charter will provide greater access to its
anonymous data sources and rights.
Comscore also said it is extending its data agreement with
Comscore, known for its measurement tools for online and local
media, as well as film viewing, has faced a number of challenges in
recent years, including executive departures, an accounting scandal
and a subsequent Securities and Exchange Commission investigation,
which resulted in a $5 million settlement in 2019. The company has
also faced increasing demand from media and marketing clients for
new measurement capabilities.
Since 2019, Comscore's stock price has plummeted more than 80%.
Its shares jumped almost 16% on Thursday to $2.84.
Comscore already has relationships with various cable operators
and data providers, including Charter. But the deal could improve
Comscore's access to the company's trove of set-top box viewership
data, helping it better compete with larger rival Nielsen Holdings
Media giants reliant on Nielsen ratings have called for more
competition in media measurement.
Both companies are under enormous pressure to adapt their
services to keep up with the rapidly changing media-consumption
Comscore in late 2019 named Bill Livek as its CEO. Months
earlier, Bryan Wiener, the former chief executive, and Sarah
Hofstetter, former president, announced their resignations after
less than a year in the roles, citing disagreements with the board
over the execution of the company's strategy.
Shortly after their departures, the company announced layoffs
and said it was working to renegotiate data contracts and lower its
--Lillian Rizzo contributed to this article.
Write to Alexandra Bruell at email@example.com, Miriam
Gottfried at Miriam.Gottfried@wsj.com and Suzanne Vranica at
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 07, 2021 20:25 ET (01:25 GMT)
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