The major marketing groups – including Interpublic and Dentsu – are putting the finishing touches to huge bids after it has been revealed that Acxiom is to flog off its data-marketing business.
Acxiom announced a “strategic review” of the marketing services business in February, although it has only just emerged that this concluded with the decision to get rid.
The unit has not had the best of times of late, losing one of its major accounts when Facebook pulled the plug on third-party data deals through its Marketing Partners Programme. While other data firms, including Experian and Epsilon also lost business, Acxiom appeared over-exposed, warning that the decision would cost the company up to $25m (£18m).
The division represents about three-quarters of Acxiom’s total revenue and generated $697m (£530m) for the year ended March 31. Sources predict it could fetch up to $1.8bn (£1.4bn).
Final bids for the Acxiom unit are expected on Thursday. Quite where this would leave the rest of the company – headquarted in Little Rock, Arkansas, is anyone’s guess.
Dentsu has already been highly active in the market following its acquisition of data-driven marketing giant Merkle in 2016. Since then, Merkle has been buying up companies left, right and centre.
Meanwhile, US data services giant TransUnion recently completed the acquisition of Callcredit Information Group for approximately £1bn ($1.4bn) following approval from the Financial Conduct Authority, just weeks after first announcing the deal.
One industry source said: “If I were working at Acxiom I would be studying my contract very closely. The first thing any potential buyer will do is cut out the fat. So, hold on to your hats and prepare for a bumpy ride.”
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