Nielsen buys rest of NetRatings

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NEW YORK -- The Nielsen Co., parent company of The Hollywood Reporter, has agreed to acquire full control of Internet audience measurement firm NetRatings Inc. in a cash deal worth about $327 million.

The Nielsen Co. already owns about 60% of NetRatings and now plans to acquire the rest for $21 per share in cash.

The companies said Monday that the price tag represents a 44.1% premium over NetRatings' Oct. 6 closing price.

"We believe that the merger is in the best interests of NetRatings' minority shareholders," said Arthur Kingsbury, chairman of the special committee of the NetRatings board of directors.

David Calhoun, chairman and CEO of Nielsen, said the deal will allow the companies "to better coordinate their strengths for the benefit of our mutual clients."

The transaction is expected to be completed in the second quarter and must still be formally approved by NetRatings shareholders. However, Nielsen, previously known as VNU Group, has agreed to vote all of its shares in favor of the merger, thereby assuring approval.

NetRatings shares closed up 14.1% at $20.59. Before Monday's stock market session, they had traded at $11.51-$18.52 during the past year.

In more Nielsen Co. developments Monday, the company's Nielsen Business Media unit said The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard have appointed Cambruzzi Marketing to lead the sales and marketing efforts for its custom media products in the home entertainment and consumer categories.

Custom media is one of the fastest-growing segments of the media industry, the companies said.
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