Comscore Nears Deal With Charter, Qurate Retail and Cerberus -- Update
By Alexandra Bruell, Miriam Gottfried and Suzanne Vranica
Comscore Inc. is nearing 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 potentially strengthening its
commercial relationships, according to people familiar with the
The exact structure of the deal couldn't be learned. Comscore
said in November it was in advanced discussions for a
"recapitalization transaction" that would lower its debt and
provide it with greater liquidity.
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 could help 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.
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 recently traded at $2.40.
Comscore already has relationships with various cable operators
and data providers, including Charter. But the deal could improve
the measurement company's access to the company's trove of set-top
box viewership data, helping it better compete with larger rival
Nielsen Holdings PLC.
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 habits of consumers.
Comscore in late 2019 named Bill Livek its CEO. Months earlier,
Bryan Wiener, the company's former chief executive, and Sarah
Hofstetter, its 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, Miriam
Gottfried at Miriam.Gottfried@wsj.com and Suzanne Vranica at
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 07, 2021 16:35 ET (21:35 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.