Update: 'Polk for Sale' Rumor Surfaces at Show

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ORLANDO, FL - Rumors about the possible sale of all or part of marketing database company R.L. Polk & Co., Southfield, MI, were rampant at the National Center for Database Marketing conference here this week.


Industry watchers have been speculating for years about the possibility that Polk would sell, but the company could be closer to a deal now than it has been, some sources said.


A spokesman for Polk said that although the company was always discussing opportunities for sales and acquisitions, it had no official comment on the current speculation.


Jan L. Davis, executive vice president at database company Trans Union, Chicago, said she found "all the rumors and facts that are out there fascinating," but she declined to discuss a report that Trans Union might be exploring buying Polk.


Another source at Trans Union, however, remarked that Polk "definitely" was for sale, although that person declined to comment further.


Polk, a privately owned company led by chairman/CEO Stephen R. Polk, had $415 million in revenues in the fiscal year ended March 31. Its transportation division is its largest, supplying products and services to automotive, trucking and other transportation customers. Its direct marketing unit provides direct marketing, database management and is a major compiler of lifestyle and demographic data.


A rumor that infoUSA could be pursuing the direct marketing division might have been fueled by a Nov. 25 Reuters wire report in which infoUSA chairman Vinod Gupta said he is close to acquiring a database company that would addabout $200 million to its revenues next year.


Laurel Gottesman, director of investor relations at infoUSA, downplayed the report, saying the company is still busy digesting its relatively recent acquisition of Donnelley Marketing.


"There is nothing that is brewing and nothing is about to be announced," she said. Others said they would not be surprised if infoUSA is pursuing the purchase of Polk, given the company's acquisitive history.
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