The Next 60 Days: What to Look For

by Lance Turner  on Monday, May. 21, 2007 12:00 am  

It's a big deal, and it's not over yet. Consider the following as the Acxiom sale saga unfolds over the next few months.

1. Another Suitor
It might seem as if ValueAct Capital Partners' and Silver Lake Partners' $3 billion deal to buy Acxiom Corp. of Little Rock is open and shut, but it's still possible another buyer could come along.

That's because the terms of such a deal dictate that Acxiom must take the next 60 days to solicit and consider offers from other firms.

Acxiom CEO Charles Morgan said he expects to receive offers from other companies, but adds that a bidding war in these situations "is not normal."

If Acxiom does decide to go with another buyer or group of buyers in less than 60 days, the deal won't be cheap. Acxiom would have to pay ValueAct-Silver Lake $22.3 million. If Acxiom chooses another suitor after 60 days, it would owe three times that, Morgan said.

2. Cutbacks
Conventional wisdom suggests that when a private equity firm rolls in, the belt tightens. So what will the new ownership mean to Acxiom employees?

Morgan said last week that the company will remain headquartered in Little Rock and that employees should not notice a big change. But he added that Acxiom remains "a company in transition."

Arkansas Business noted earlier this year that Acxiom was shedding workers at a higher rate than it had previously. It remains unclear what new ownership means to the work force.

3. The Big Chair
Morgan said wants to remain CEO -- or Company Leader, in Acxiom-speak -- of the newly restructured company, which he's worked for since 1969.

While regulations prevented him from having discussions about his future at Acxiom while the company finalized the buyout, Morgan said he believes Acxiom's new owners want him to stay.

How long he'll stay is another question. A year? Two years? Morgan has long maintained control of a company that by all accounts is dear to him. Will he eventually chafe under new ownership and take the easy -- and lucrative -- way out?



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