, a provider of clinical trials services to life science companies, soon will have a new owner – but it’s Merge Healthcare, not Bio-Imaging Technologies as previously announced.

Merge Healthcare (Nasdaq: MRGE) and etrials (Nasdaq: ETWC) announced Monday before the markets opened that they had struck a deal valued at $1.70 per share for etrials. Merge will pay 80 cents a share in cash as well as another 0.34 shares of its stock for each share of etrials. Total value of the deal is around $18 million.

The deal does not mean etrials will disappear, however.

etrials will be a business unit within Merge, with access to clinical trials resources and product development from Merge (original equipment manufacturers,)," a company spokesperson said.

"etrials’ Morrisville office will continue to be the center of etrials’ operations," he added.

A month ago, Bio-Imaging and etrials disclosed agreement on a deal worth around $10 million. Bio-Imaging later upped its bid to $15 million after the two companies reported a third party had entered the negotiations.

etrials stock soared 40 cents, or 31 percent, on the news to $1.67 in late-morning trading Monday. At one point they reached $1.72. A year ago, etrials share sold at a 52-week high of $2.25, but by last October its sales had plunged to 36 cents.

The companies said in a statement that the deal was considered a “superior proposal” by etrials board to the offers made by Bio-Imaging last month.

In a statement, Bio-Imaging said it would not up its price and added that its earlier agreement with etrials required etrials to pay a $500,000 termination fee as well as related expenses up to 4250,000.

“We have decided it would not be in the best interest of our shareholders to pursue this acquisition further," said Bio-Imaging Chief Executive Officer  Mark Weinstein. "Although we are disappointed with the outcome, we will continue to actively look for other acquisitions that would add value and expand our eClinical services offering.”

Both Merge and etrials provide services for life sciences-related clinical trials. etrials focuses on software solutions and services.

However, in a statement about the merger, the companies noted: "etrials’ product offerings have no overlap with Merge products. As a result, both companies have the ability to capitalize on emerging business growth opportunities and deliver added value to their customers, partners and shareholders. Moreover, etrials and Merge have unique current clinical trials customers. This provides each company the ability to extend new solutions to their installed base."

“We believe that there could be significant synergy from incorporating our imaging and data hosting solutions with etrials’ broad portfolio of integrated eClinical solutions. etrials’ experience in conducting global clinical trials also complements Merge’s international expansion initiatives,” said Merge Chief Executive Officer Justin Dearborn in a statement.

etrials, an earlier leader in the provision of electronic data capture for clinical trials, has recently undergone numerous management changes.

“etrials welcomes this opportunity to become part of Merge Healthcare,” said M. Denis Connaghan, etrial’s current CEO. “It continues with our strategy to take the industry in a new direction that is increasingly in demand by bringing our customers access to additional capabilities that we believe increases the value of the important clinical trial development they perform. It also gives the etrials organization a broader base of financial, product and development resources, and international relationships to continue the improvements that have been made and enable an expansion of the business.”

The deal is expected to close in the third quarter.