InfoUSA's Millard Buy Adds Strong Consumer List Presence

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While infoUSA's acquisition of Edith Roman Associates last year clearly bolstered the data giant's foothold in the business-to-business market, Friday's acquisition of fellow list brokerage and management firm Millard Group Inc. considerably augments its consumer list presence.


"Millard Group is a blue-chip organization, and we are proud to have them associated with us," infoUSA chairman/CEO Vin Gupta said in an interview with DM News.


He would not disclose the purchase price, though the information will be made available eventually as infoUSA, Omaha, NE, is a public company.


Gupta acknowledged Millard's expertise in the consumer market but said that was only part of the reason for the deal, with the main draw being its overall strength as a company.


"We have database on both sides -- consumer and business -- so it really does not make a difference," he said. "What we are finding is that by having access to our database and our technologies, list companies can focus more on their business and have liquidity."


The purchase brings Millard, a major consumer catalog and publishing brokerage and management firm, into the fold with other infoUSA list subsidiaries including Walter Karl, Edith Roman Associates and Yesmail, which are under the Donnelley Marketing Group and its president, Ed Mallin.


Millard will continue to operate independently from its Peterborough, NH, headquarters with its existing management team. Millard executives include president Ben Perez; Linda McAleer, executive vice president, list brokerage and management; Mike Hayden, senior vice president, list brokerage; and Jeff Kelley, senior vice president, new business acquisition.


Gupta said that the management and operation, including Perez, would remain intact.


Though Gupta would not say how long the deal took, industry sources said that Millard had been shopping itself around for about two years.


"We've always been very much an employee-centric company, and one of the things that infoUSA has assured us is that they don't want to mess with that formula but put us in a position to have greater resources and greater opportunity to really grow our business," Perez told DM News.


Mallin added, "We're very excited that Ben and Linda are part of the long-term future for Millard, and our goal is to strengthen and support them giving Millard more services and capabilities to offer their pretty incredible client base."


Among Millard's instantly recognizable catalog clients are Brookstone, Chadwick's, Coldwater Creek, J. Jill, Just My Size, Lerner, Nordstrom, Norm Thompson, One Hanes Place, Orvis, Paul Fredrick MenStyle, Seasons and Talbots. It represents multiple magazine lists from major publishing houses including American Express Publishing, Condé Nast, Meredith Corp., Oxmoor House, Primedia, The Taunton Press Publications, Time Inc., TransWorld and TV Guide.


Millard also specializes in insert media through its AM/Direct division as well as multichannel research through its Decision Direct Research division.


InfoUSA began 2005 with its Feb. 1 acquisition of @Once, Portland, OR, a retention-based e-mail technology firm that it integrated with its existing e-mail subsidiary Yesmail, San Carlos, CA. Gupta said then that the acquisition would not be the last for this year and cited the list industry as an area of interest.


On June 13, Gupta announced a proposal to pay $11.75 in cash for each outstanding share of infoUSA common stock he does not own, through Vin Gupta & Co. LLC, which is controlled by Gupta, who owns 38 percent of its stock. The proposal was withdrawn Aug. 24 after Gupta's offer was not favored by the company's special committee of the board of directors.


InfoUSA made two BTB-focused purchases in June 2004: list firm Edith Roman for $12 million and business data firm OneSource Information Services Inc. for $101 million. InfoUSA also bought service bureau Triplex Direct Marketing in April 2004 and Yesmail from CMGI Inc. in March 2003.


Going forward, Gupta said he is always on the lookout for opportunities.


"You don't plan for these things -- when they happen, they happen," he said. "Whatever comes our way, if it makes sense we do it."


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