Internet researchers tango in billion-dollar merger

Internet audience-rating company Media Metrics has acquired e-commerce research consultancy Jupiter Communications, in a deal commanding a global market value of $US1 billion.

The merged company will be named Jupiter Media Metrix. However, the local operations of both companies would function separately, company executives said today.

Both parties agreed the relationship was "great" for each business, as they would be providing "complementary" research services.

Jupiter Communications will continue to provide strategic e-commerce industry analysis and stage its executive conferences, Jupiter Forums, while Media Metrix will focus on meter-based internet and advertising audience research, according to David Stewart-Hunter, Media Metrix Australia's CEO.

Stewart-Hunter believes the market will benefit from the merger through "more ready awareness" of each company's research offerings.

He added that Jupiter Communications may "introduce prospective clients" to its buyer, and vice versa. He looked forward to capitalising on the merged company's combined global client base of 1700.

While Stewart-Hunter felt it was too early to estimate the local market value of the acquisition ("the US is still digesting stock market issues at the moment"), he said the merger was "unlikely" to impact the internet information space "directly".

Also, executives and employees from both companies' local operations "will hold onto their positions", said Stewart-Hunter.

However, a spokesman for Jupiter Communications hinted his own position would change under the merger. Jupiter Communications' local business may be "restructured", he said, refusing to specify if this would affect management or subordinates.

The merger had also been under discussion at US headquarters "for some time", said Stewart-Hunter, declining to reveal how long. "These things just don't happen overnight,"he said.

The Jupiter Communications spokesman declined to say whether his company had discussed a buy-out with any other firms, research or otherwise.

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