AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) _ Dutch publisher VNU will buy television ratings firm Nielsen Media Research Inc. in a deal valued at $2.7 billion that will help build VNU's business and marketing information services.

New York-based Nielsen, when announcing the deal today, said that the merger will help it expand its business globally.

Under the merger agreement, VNU will pay $37.75 per share of Nielsen common stock. VNU will also take on $200,000 in Nielsen's debt.

The deal, which has been approved by the board of directors' at both companies, is expected to close this fall.

Nielsen, which is best known for its television audience measurement and also tracks information on advertising and Internet usage, employs 3,300 workers and had revenues of $402 million last year.

VNU, which is based in Haarlem, Netherlands, is a giant publisher of newspapers, magazines and educational textbooks. In addition, VNU offers marketing information services and organizes trade shows.

VNU employes about 15,000 people and had annual revenues last year of more than $2.8 billion.