Taylor Nelson, GfK to Merge

NEW YORK Two of the world’s largest research firms have agreed to merge to create the second-largest global market research organization.

U.K.-based Taylor Nelson Sofres, which owns TNS Media Intelligence and TNS Media Research in the U.S., has agreed to a stock swap with German firm GfK AG, the companies said Tuesday.

Both firms will own about 50 percent of the merged entity, to be called TNS-GfK.

TNS-GfK will have estimated revenue of $4.2 billion, closing in on Nielsen, which reported $4.7 billion revenue in 2007. The new company will have operations in 111 countries, bringing together GfK’s strength in central and eastern Europe with TNS’ coverage in the Asia-Pacific region.

“The new business we are creating will be a global leader in the market information industry,” said David Lowden, chief executive of TNS. The transaction is expected to close by year’s end.

According to several reports, agency holding company WPP Group also proposed to acquire TNS earlier this year, but that offer was rejected.

Nielsen is the parent of Adweek and Mediaweek.