Experian, Metromail Work on Merging

The Great Universal Stores PLC cash tender offer for Metromail closed April 10 in a transaction valued at $845 million, or $34.50 per share, ending a bidding war for the company with American Business Information. Metromail, Lombard, IL, will become part of GUS subsidiary Experian, Orange, CA.

Now that the purchase has closed, Experian can focus on the task of integrating its services with those of Metromail. Teams have been set up to examine a number of areas across the two companies and how they can best be combined. Experian chairman and CEO D. Van Skilling will receive a final report in 60 days.

Skilling said the union will work because the two information service providers cater different products to different markets. Experian specializes in the financial services, auto and catalog industries while Metromail focuses on the retail, telecommunications, packaged good and energy markets. Metromail's mail production facilities also will expand Experian's direct marketing capabilities.

“There are so many areas this will affect,'' Skilling said. “For example, in the database management systems area, this is a great opportunity to pick the best points of Metromail's and our systems to provide an offering of choices that will really solve virtually any need our customers might have. We can offer Experian to customers with a complete array of services.''

While some Metromail products and organizational structures will retain their current brand identity, there are no plans to alter the name of the company from Experian. Once such service is Insource, a data enhancement tool produced in partnership by the two companies. Colloboration on Insource convinced Experian that the merger of two similar consumer data-driven companies could work.

“Insource has been a success,'' Skilling said. “The opportunity to work together really helped us when we were evaluating Metromail.''

Another Experian division, Direct Tech, already is assisting Great Universal Stores grow its mail-order business in Europe and Metromail's expertise in compiling consumer data also will be put to work.

As for the role of executives such as Metromail chairman and CEO Barton Faber, Skilling plans to determine an optimum management structure in the next 30 to 60 days.

“There is real strength in Metromail's management,” he said. “I expect them to hold very responsible positions in the new organization.”

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