Acxiom Finds Itself in Period of Uncertainty

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Jan. 7, 2008 12:00 am  

Charles Morgan realizes the failure to find a new company leader has handicapped Acxiom Corp. of Little Rock.

"These periods of uncertainty are not helpful to growing the business or not helpful to recruiting new people or retaining people," he said in a recent interview with Arkansas Business. "It's unsettling to everybody."

Morgan also said the stress of the collapsed sale of Acxiom Corp. hastened his decision to retire.

Morgan used the title "company leader" as both chief executive and chairman of the publicly traded company's board of directors. In May, when the $3 billion sale of Acxiom to Silver Lake Partners and ValueAct Capital Partners was announced, he said he had no desire to leave the company and believed the buyers wanted him to stay.

But then, Morgan said, as the deal crawled forward, he privately told Silver Lake and ValueAct officials that he would retire after the sale was completed. The deal, however, was called off on Oct. 1.

Still, Morgan, who is 65, said he decided to go ahead and retire.

Morgan said he had a lot of restless nights as he watched the crumbling of the potential sale of the data-mining company he ran for more than 30 years and developed into a Fortune 500 company.

"You don't like to be involved in something that is out of your control," Morgan said.

If the sale had gone through, Morgan would have received more than $80 million at the buyout price of $27.10 a share.

Blames Credit Meltdown

Morgan said the credit crunch precipitated by the crisis in the subprime mortgage market was the main reason the sale collapsed.

"The meltdown in the credit market was clearly the biggest single factor," he said.

"That was our biggest fear that every day the credit market situation got worse and worse and it continued to get worse."



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