NetRatings To Acquire Jupiter Media Metrix

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(AP) In a deal combining two of the leading Internet audience measurement services, NetRatings Inc. is acquiring Jupiter Media Metrix for $71 million.

NetRatings said the acquisition will nearly double its customer base and expects the deal to close early next year.

Both companies install monitoring software onto the computers of thousands of volunteers in order to collect data on Internet surfing habits.

Journalists often use such data when reporting how many people visit particular Web sites. The data is also used to determine advertising rates.

Jupiter Media Metrix had a suit pending against NetRatings over the method it used to measure Web site traffic. However, under Thursday’s deal, both companies agreed to take no further action against one another.

Jupiter Media Metrix’s Jupiter Research division also provides consulting and research services analyzing technology and Internet issues. It was formed in 2000 when Media Metrix Inc. said it would purchase Jupiter Communications Inc. for what was originally $400 million in stock.

Jupiter Research will continue, though some areas, like travel and health care, will be expanded. Other areas like the events business may be phased out, said Dave Toth, CEO of NetRatings, who will be leaving his post to pursue other opportunities when the transaction is completed. “This acquisition is an opportunity to accelerate our growth to profitability,” Toth said.

Bill Pulver, formerly president of ACNielsen eRatings.com, will subsequently become president and chief operating officer of NetRatings. He will eventually become chief executive and president of the combined company, replacing Toth.

As for layoffs, Toth would only say that “there are overlaps in these businesses, and we will have to look at cost synergies.”

Under terms of the NetRatings deal, stockholders may elect to receive 0.1490 shares of NetRatings or $1.95 in cash in exchange for each Jupiter Media Metrix share.

NetRatings also announced that it has agreed to purchase the 80.1% of ACNielsen eRatings.com that it does not currently own for about $16.4 million.

Shares of Jupiter Media Metrix rose 3 cents to 63 cents in trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market, where shares of NetRatings fell 6 cents to $13.09.

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