Mexican Firm Buys U.S. Call Center

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MONTEREY, Mexico - Merkafon, one of Latin America's leading direct marketing companies, last month bought Access Worldwide's call center in Plano, TX, in order to expand its U.S. operations aimed at the Hispanic market.

Terms were not disclosed.

Merkafon is a subsidiary of Pulsar International, a $3 billion group of companies based here, that employs 10,000 people and does business in 123 countries. Operations include financial service, Internet and insurance.

Access is a Nasdaq-listed marketing services company active in pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, financial services and consumer products.

CEO Michael Dinkins explained that he had sold the center because, despite "an outstanding track record of quality and superior client satisfaction," it was not being fully used.

That shouldn't be a problem for Merkafon, analysts noted, because it already operates a 1,100-plus workstation call center here using a digital CTI network that reaches into Texas.

The company has been active in the U.S. Hispanic market, but the new acquisition, CEO Jesus Rodriguez noted, "greatly expands our presence in the U.S. so that we are unquestionably one of the largest Hispanic DM companies in the world."

Merkafon, he added, has been getting a large volume of business from U.S. companies interested in the Mexican market so that "it just made sense to look at a dedicated call center and business office" in the United States. He expects to get more U.S. business as a result of the new addition.

Within six months, the new owners plan to re-engineer the facility as a Web-enabled call center, "allowing for full media integration in sales support and customer service," a Merkafon statement said.

"We now have the ability to offer unprecedented levels of service technology and responsiveness for the Hispanic marketplace with seamless, culturally relevant bilingual marketing capability," said manager John Allen.

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