AOL signs deal to buy Huffington Post at yesterday’s Super Bowl

AOL’s taken the next step in its efforts to turn itself into a major media company, buying the Huffington Post for $315 million.

The Huffington Post was established in 2005, and now claims nearly 25 million unique monthly visitors – although the biggest draw for AOL was probably Arianna Huffington herself, whom AOL chairman and CEO describes as ‘singularly passionate and dedicated’.

“Arianna is a remarkable person and she will continue to create remarkable outcomes for the combined company,” he said.

The Huffington Post will become the flagship of AOL’s editorial business, integrating the company’s existing titles, including Engadget, TechCrunch, Moviefone and MapQuest, and will be headed by Arianna Huffington as president and editor in chief. AOL is hoping she’ll bring the editorial character and direction that its existing sites badly need.

The new group will have a combined base of 117 million unique visitors a month in the US and 270 million around the world.

“This is truly a merger of visions and a perfect fit for us. The Huffington Post will continue on the same path we have been on for the last six years – though now at light speed – by combining with AOL,” said Huffington.

“Our readers will still be able to come to the Huffington Post at the same URL, and find all the same content they’ve grown to love, plus a lot more – more local, more tech, more entertainment, more finance, and lots more video.”

The deal was signed at the Super Bowl, says Huffington, where Tim Armstrong was hosting a group of wounded vets from the Screamin’ Eagles. It still needs government approval, but is expected to close in the next three or four months.