Media Ratings Firms Merge (ARB, NLSN)

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Two of the most famous names in media research and ratings have agreed to a merger. Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NYSE: NLSN) will acquire all outstanding shares of Arbitron Inc. (NYSE: ARB) for $48 a share in cash, or a total of $1.26 billion. The offer represents a premium of 26% to Arbitron’s closing price last night.

The boards of both companies have approved the deal, which is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory review. No estimated closing date has been provided. Nielsen said it has a financing commitment for the entire transaction amount.

Arbitron offers ratings services for radio stations, complementing Nielsen’s TV ratings services. Nielsen’s CEO said:

Arbitron will help Nielsen better solve for unmeasured areas of media consumption, including streaming audio and out-of-home. The high level of engagement with radio and TV among rapidly growing multicultural audiences makes this central to Nielsen’s priorities.

While that sounds impressive, its meaning and how the combined company will make it happen is a little squishy.

Shares of Arbitron are up 25.3% at $47.65 in premarket trading this morning, in a 52-week range of $32.34 to $39.98. Nothing like a merger to help put up a 52-week high.

Shares of Nielsen are up 1.3% at $30.00 in a 52-week range of $25.02 to $32.07.

Paul Ausick

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