Info Group Attracts Bidders

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Info Group (IUSA.O), a business-to-business marketing firm, attracted first round bids from companies including rivals and private equity firms, two sources familiar with the matter said.

Info Group said in December 2008 it retained boutique advisory firm Evercore (EVR.N) to help evaluate its options. That was prompted by its former CEO and chairman, Vinod Gupta, requesting the company explore its strategic alternatives, including a sale of the company.

Preliminary bids were put in last week, said the two sources and other sources familiar with the situation. Interest came from both private equity firms and rival companies of Info Group, the sources said, who declined to be named because the talks are not public.

The sources said that information companies including Dun & Bradstreet (DNB.N) and private equity firm Carlyle [CYL.UL] also put in a bid.

The sources also said that Acxiom Corp (ACXM.O) had also submitted a bid, although the company denied that.

“We have not made a bid,” a spokesman for the company told Reuters.

One of the two sources and a separate source said that it was possible the business could be sold in parts, rather than as a whole. The two sources said it was unclear whether the company had decided that selling parts of the business is an option.

One of the original two sources cautioned that the company could decide not to sell itself if it wasn’t satisfied with the prices offered. It was unclear what the price of the bids were, but one source said at least one bid wasn’t at much of a premium to the company’s recent stock price.

Shares, which closed at $7.96 on Monday, have more than doubled since December 2008. Shares rose more than 12 percent following news of the bids on Tuesday, and were up 41 cents at $8.37 by early afternoon.

Info Group had a market capitalization of around $450 million at the close of trading on Monday.

Omaha, Nebraska-based Info Group changed its name from infoUSA in June 2008, after expanding internationally.

Evercore also advised Info Group on its $155 million sale of research services firm Macro International in April.

Info Group lists 19 different businesses on its website, which provide various marketing, research and database services.

D&B and Carlyle declined comment; Info Group did not return calls made Monday for comment.

By Megan Davies and Jui Chakravorty
(Editing by Steve Orlofsky, Bernard Orr)