Acxiom Corporation announced that it had reached an agreement to acquire the Claritas Europe group of companies from VNU N.V., a global information and media company based in Haarlem, The Netherlands.

Acxiom will pay 33.5 million euros (approximately $40 million) in cash for Claritas Europe's operations. Acxiom expects the transaction to be slightly dilutive for the balance of fiscal 2004 and to be accretive for fiscal 2005. The transaction is expected to close within 30 days. The anticipated revenue from the companies acquired will be approximately 83 million euros ($100 million) for the 12 months ending December 31, 2003, which will approximately triple Acxiom's annual European revenue. The transaction is pending approval from the appropriate work councils.

Claritas products will be rebranded with the Acxiom name. Very much like Acxiom's InfoBase products in the U.S., Claritas Europe's products provide the largest source of consumer lifestyle and behavioral information for effective marketing across Europe.

Claritas Europe clients are among some of the world's most successful companies in the financial services, automotive, retail, consumer durables, mail order, publishing, telecommunications, utilities, and travel and leisure industries. (Claritas Europe is operated independently from Claritas, Inc., a separate VNU subsidiary that operates in the U.S. Claritas, Inc. is not involved in this transaction.)

The Claritas Europe data acquisition and sales offices being purchased by Acxiom are in Paris; Frankfurt; Warsaw; Madrid; Lisbon; Teddington, England; and Leiderdorp, The Netherlands. Claritas services operations include Altwood Systems in Kent, England; and BPK Group in Almere and Nieuwegein, The Netherlands. Currently, Acxiom European operations are in London, Leeds and Sunderland, England, as well as Paris.

While the acquisition gives Acxiom a much broader capability to provide data and services for companies doing business in Europe, Morgan said it will also be welcome news to many U.S.-based companies who are actively expanding their businesses into Europe. Acxiom's U.K. office has recently signed significant agreements with a number of leading companies already served by Acxiom in the U.S.

Kevin Zaffaroni, who has served as an Acxiom group leader for financial services clients since 1997, will head up the new Acxiom-Europe organization. Zaffaroni, who previously served as an executive at IBM, brings more than 25 years of expertise in the information technology industry.

Cindy Truyens, who has been with Acxiom since 2000 and serving as managing director of Acxiom (U.K.) Limited and director of Acxiom France, will now lead the company's expanded business in the U.K. Auke Jan van den Hout, now managing director for Claritas Europe Database Marketing Division, will lead the Northern European group of the new organization. Thierry Asmar, now managing director of Claritas France, will lead the Southern European group.

Bruce Carroll, Acxiom's strategic development leader and a senior executive at the company the past four years, will also be directly involved in integrating the products of Acxiom and the acquired companies. He has more than 30 years' experience in building successful micromarketing and database companies in the U.S., Europe and Canada. He was one of the founding partners and President/CEO of Claritas in the U.S. After the acquisition of Claritas by VNU in 1990, Carroll became President/CEO of Computerized Marketing Technologies in London. One of the largest data acquisition and direct marketing companies in Europe, CMT was later acquired by VNU to become the largest and core operation of Claritas Europe.

Wally Anderson will serve as chief technology leader for Acxiom Europe. Anderson joined Acxiom in 1998 and has had a key role in developing AbiliTec and Acxiom's grid-based solutions architecture. Prior to joining Acxiom, he was the vice president for technology and communications for Wal-Mart Stores, and he had a long career with IBM in many marketing and technology positions.

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