TV viewer ratings powerhouse Nielsen Holdings (NYSE:NLSN) announced a plan to capitalize on its strong share price Wednesday, selling at least 35 million shares of stock, or enough shares to raise as much as $1.2 billion cash. In the event underwriters exercise their overallotment options, the size of the offering could rise past 40 million shares.

Unfortunately for Nielsen, this is not a "follow-on" offering of newly issued shares, which would raise money for the company. Instead, it's a "secondary" offering -- a sale by existing large stakeholders, cashing out their stock at a profit, and contributing no money at all to the company.

Markets reacted poorly to the proposal, as Nielsen shares opened down 6.9% from their Wednesday closing price this morning. The shares have recovered somewhat in the hour since, but are still down 2.9%, at $32.74.

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