New Alliance, Acxiom execs will work toward ’09 growth

Two major database marketers — Alliance Data Systems Corp. and Acxiom Corp. — are welcoming new leadership this year, as they work to maintain market share and grow their database and analytics services in the coming year.

Alliance is promoting Edward Heffernan, a 10-year veteran of the company and cur­rently its CFO, to the roles of CEO and president, effective March 1. He succeeds longtime CEO J. Michael Parks, who will stay on as chairman of the board.

A key role for Heffernan will be manag­ing growth and new opportunities for the company, which has posted average revenue increases of 16% per year in the last 10 years. In the fourth quarter of 2008, almost all of Alliance’s businesses, which include Epsilon, LoyaltyOne and a credit services division, posted revenue growth.

“He has been the architect of our highly respected business model and has gained respect within the company and in the financial community, so it’s a natural fit,” noted Shelley Whiddon, director of external communications for Alliance.

Of particular focus will be Epsilon’s inter­active, data and analytics capabilities, which were largely responsible for the agency’s over­all growth in the fourth quarter, and Alliance’s loyalty services, which are expected to have organic growth in the mid-teens in 2009.

At Acxiom, Michael Darviche has been appointed CMO and SVP to lead the com­pany’s efforts to make integrated, multichan­nel marketing a top priority for companies worldwide, the company said.

Darviche was an external hire, and had served until recently as CEO and founder of Flash Capital Systems, a start-up specializing in data-driven customer monitoring.

“What makes him an especially good fit for our company is his broad experience in digital marketing and the underlying technologies and data, as well as his under­standing of the crucial role online services play in an end-to-end marketing program,” said John Meyer, president of Acxiom, in a statement. “He has also been successful in running large sales, marketing and technol­ogy organizations.”

Darviche will focus on generating sales leads, creating brand awareness, promoting industry leadership and discovering new market opportunities for Acxiom. He also will oversee acquisitions that would expand Acxiom’s capabilities and global offerings.

During the third quarter of 2008, the com­pany completed its acquisition of Quinetix LLC, a provider of analytics and predictive modeling for retail banking businesses, hos­pitality, media and other industries. The acquisition extended Acxiom’s consumer insight capabilities.

Acxiom has not announced any other official acquisition plans. Its fiscal year 2009 revenue is expected to be between $1.28 billion and $1.3 billion.

Alliance Data reported total fourth-quarter 2008 revenue of $508 million, a 3% decline from the fourth quarter of 2007, but predicted 17% to 18% cash earnings per share growth in 2009. Private label credit revenue declined 12% to $171 million for Q4.

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