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Private equity firm to acquire market tracker NPD Group

Port Washington-based market research firm The NPD Group

Port Washington-based market research firm The NPD Group has agreed to be acquired by a private equity firm. Credit: Newsday File/Albert Orlando

Global markets researcher The NPD Group Inc. has agreed to be acquired by a San Francisco private equity firm.

Terms of the acquisition by Hellman & Friedman, which is expected to close by year's end, were not disclosed.

The NPD Group has about 500 employees at its 117,000-square-foot facility in Port Washington and 1,600 worldwide. NPD chief executive Karyn Schoenbart said there would be no immediate impact on operations.

The closely held private company uses point-of-sale data and consumer surveys to underpin research on apparel, appliances, automotive, food, electronics, retail, sports, video games and other consumer segments.

The company, which said it ranks as the eighth largest market research firm in the world, received a 10-year tax abatement deal from Nassau County that began in January 2019.

Majority owner and executive chairman Tod Johnson would retain a minority stake in NPD after the transaction closes and retain a seat on its board of directors.

"H&F shares our focus on long-term growth and has the resources and expertise to not only continue but also accelerate NPD’s momentum," Johnson said in statement.

Schoenbart, the CEO, also would retain a minority stake and serve on the board.

Schoenbart and Johnson are expected to transition to the advisory roles once a new CEO is hired.

"We expect H&F to continue our tradition of client partnership and innovation with new products, data sources, and next generation platforms to make our information even more comprehensive, accessible, and actionable," said Schoenbart, author of the career advice book, "Mom.B.A."

Hellman & Friedman, with more than $90 billion in assets under management, has had a variety of companies in its portfolio, including: Getty Images, a supplier of stock photos; the Nasdaq Stock Market LLC, and DoubleClick, a digital marketing company.

The private equity firm will consult with NPD's employee-works council before signing a definitive sale agreement.

In 2006, Hellman & Friedman joined an investor group that acquired The Nielsen Company, an analytics business known for tracking the behavior of television viewers.

"Rapidly evolving consumer expectations and the growth of e-commerce are accelerating the pace of change in the retail landscape," Blake Kleinman, a partner at Hellman & Friedman, said in a statement. "In an environment of unknowns, the ability for companies to use omnichannel analytics to measure and improve performance is more important than ever before, and NPD is extremely well positioned."

NPD's origins trace back to 1953, when a predecessor company, Home Testing Institute, was founded by Henry Brenner. Johnson was named CEO of its successor, NPD Research, in 1986 and bought NPD Group from Brenner in 1995.

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