(Reuters) - Verizon Communications Inc <VZ.N> said it would buy AOL Inc <AOL.N> in a deal valued at about $4.4 billion to gain access to AOL's digital advertising service and content.
The offer of $50 per share represents a premium of 17.4 percent to AOL's Monday close of $42.59.
Shares of AOL were trading at $50.05 before the bell.
The deal, which includes about $300 million of AOL debt, will take the form of a tender offer followed by a merger, with AOL becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of Verizon upon completion.
Verizon said it expects to fund the transaction from cash on hand and debt.
Activist-investor Starboard Value LP had urged Yahoo Inc <YHOO.O> to consider a merger with AOL, whose businesses include the Huffington Post news website and the TechCrunch blog.
(Reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar Abhirup Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)