won the auction for
, striking a definitive agreement to acquire the online financial news provider for $18 a share, or about $519 million.
The purchase price comes out to $463 million net of MarketWatch's cash, or 4.8 times next year's expected sales.
Wall Street Journal
publisher prevailed over competing offers from
New York Times
. Viacom already owns about 22% of MarketWatch, as does
of the U.K.
MarketWatch shares closed Friday at $16.79. They were trading at about $13 when news of the auction was originally published in late October, and were as low as $9 in late August. The company is expected to earn 15 cents a share this year and 39 cents a share next year, according to Thomson First Call.
The definitive agreement was unanimously approved by a committee of MarketWatch's board. MarketWatch said it adopted a stockholders' rights plan in connection with the transaction.
"The adoption of the stockholder rights plan is not intended to preclude a superior offer for acquisition of MarketWatch, but rather to make it difficult for any third party to interfere with any transaction approved by the MarketWatch board," it said.
MarketWatch is a competitor of this Web site.