October 2, 2007, 12:00 AM

Acxiom backs out of acquisition as top exec plans to leave

The customer data management company will remain publicly held after reaching an agreement with Silver Lake and ValueAct Partners to abort a planned merger. Acxiom is also looking to replace chairman and company leader Charles Morgan, who is retiring.

Acxiom Corp., a customer data management company, will remain publicly held after having reached an agreement with Axio Holdings LLC, an investment company controlled by Silver Lake and ValueAct Partners, to abort Axio’s planned acquisition of Acxiom, Acxiom has announced. Acxiom is also looking for a successor to chief executive Charles Morgan, who is retiring.

Axio Holdings will pay Acxiom $65 million in cash as part of the agreement to terminate Axio’s acquisition of Acxiom, Acxiom said.

Acxiom also reported today that the original plans with Axio and the termination of them reduced Acxiom’s net income by about $18.5 million for the first quarter ended June 30, 2007. Acxiom says it expects the second quarter to show improved revenue, operating income and net income.

“Our forecast for the second half of the fiscal year is for improved results compared to the first half of the year,” Morgan adds. “Also, I should note that the $65 million we expect to receive related to the termination of the merger agreement will be substantially more than any one-time expenses related to the merger agreement.”

"Acxiom will continue to execute on our long-term strategy to remain the market leader in database marketing, services and data products,” adds Morgan, who has led Little Rock, AR-based Acxiom for 35 years. “While I am disappointed that we could not conclude the merger, we have renewed energy and remain focused and committed to delivering value for our shareholders and clients."

The companies did not provide further details about why they chose to terminate the acquisition plan, which would have resulted in making publicly held Acxiom a private company. Morgan, who says he had planned to step down as part of the planned acquisition, says he will remain as company leader until Acxiom completes the termination agreement with Axio and chooses his successor.

Acxiom provides a range of customer-focused data management technology and services, including data integration technology, database services, I.T. outsourcing and analytics. Earlier this year, it acquired Kefta, a provider of online customer personalization technology.

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