Acxiom to Buy Digital Impact for $140 Mil.

NEW YORK Database giant Acxiom said it has reached an agreement to buy Digital Impact in a deal worth about $140 million.

Under terms of the agreement reached by the companies’ boards of directors, Acxiom will pay $3.50 per share, about $140 million, for Digital Impact, a San Mateo, Calif., Internet marketing agency specializing in e-mail services. Acxiom said Digital Impact would have about $20 million in cash on its books when the transaction closes in about a month.

The purchase agreement comes after Digital Impact earlier this month turned down a $2 per share unsolicited offer from InfoUSA, another database company, saying the offer was too low.

“There is no topic hotter than online marketing right now,” said Charles Morgan, chairman of Little Rock, Ark.-based Acxiom, on a conference call. “When spam goes away, this area is going to explode.”

Acxiom provides mostly offline database marketing services, such as providing consumer information for direct mail and telemarketing. Morgan said Acxiom clients are more interested e-mail marketing, particularly as new advancements in e-mail authentication services promise to alleviate the spam problem.

Digital Impact sends about 1 billion permission-based e-mail marketing messages per quarter on behalf of clients like Hewlett-Packard and The Gap. The company expanded beyond e-mail services with the July 2004 purchase of search marketing firm Marketleap.