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 relationships.
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 Comcast.
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 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.
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 fixed costs.
--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 firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires