Haarlem, Netherlands--Dutch publishing giant VNU announced Monday that it has agreed to acquire Nielsen Media Research in a cash transaction valued at $2.7 billion, including Nielsen's debt. Nielsen has about 3,300 employees and had 1998 revenue of $402 million. The acquisition of Nielsen, the leading provider of network, cable and local TV ratings information, would increase VNU's ability to deliver information to the marketing and advertising community. VNU says it foresees Nielsen//Net Ratings as a major player in measuring Web site audiences. VNU already owns SRDS, which provides rate information and other data about TV and radio stations, newspapers and business magazines. The deal continues VNU's recent U.S. buying spree, which has included BPI Publications' recent agreement to purchase Editor & Publisher and Bill Communications' acquisition of Shore-Varonne and MacFadden Publishing.