July 1, 2018 / 9:07 PM / 5 months ago

Exclusive - Interpublic near deal to buy Acxiom marketing solutions unit for around $2.2 billion

(Reuters) - Acxiom Corp ACXM.O is nearing a deal to sell its marketing solutions division to Interpublic Group of Companies Inc (IPG.N) for around $2.2 billion (£1.67 billion), a person familiar with the matter said on Sunday.

The move means that Little Rock, Arkansas-based Acxiom will part ways with a business that comprises roughly three quarters of its revenue in order to double down on its fast-growing “LiveRamp” unit, which helps companies more easily access and manipulate data.

The talks are advanced and a deal could be announced as soon as next week, though there is always a chance that discussions could stall at the last minute, the person added.

After the deal closes, Acxiom will eventually explore a potential sale of its remaining business, though its board may choose to give the Acxiom some time to trade in the public markets before they run a sale process, the person said.

Interpublic and Acxiom were not immediately available for comment.

For New York City-based Interpublic Group, the deal will give the advertising company access to Axciom’s reams of customer data, helping it better compete in an industry where clients increasingly expect advertising companies to offer data-driven insights.

Interpublic Group is comprised of a bundle of advertising agencies including major networks such as McCann Worldgroup and FCB as well as many smaller, more specialised businesses.

Acxiom announced it was conducting a review for the business earlier this year as part of a broader reorganization that saw its various business lines consolidated into either the LiveRamp or marketing solutions units.

Axciom acquired LiveRamp in 2014 for around $310 million.

The deal highlights the value for advertising companies in owning their own customer data at a time when the companies most known for gathering data on consumers, such as social media player Facebook Inc (FB.O), are under political pressure to be more cautious about how they collect and share data.

Reporting by Carl O'Donnell; Editing by Nick Zieminski

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