Online ad company DoubleClick is in talks with Microsoft and other potential suitors about a sale, according to the Wall Street Journal. The company has engaged Morgan Stanley to assist it in exploring strategic options, including a possible stock market listing. DoubleClick is majority-owned by private equity firm Hellman & Friedman, which purchased it in 2005 for about $1.1 billion. Hellman is now seeking at least $2 billion for the company. DoubleClick, which manages, delivers and measures online advertising for advertisers, ad agencies and Web publishers, had about $150 million in revenue last year. Its services would help Microsoft gain ground on Google, which is far ahead on ad delivery. DoubleClick was founded in 1996, and its business suffered when online advertising fell out of favor in the wake of the dot-com crash. Online ads have enjoyed sharp growth since 2005, however, in part because of Google's success. DoubleClick is now an attractive buy not only to Microsoft but also to other companies that want to strengthen their ties to Web publishers and advertisers. Sources say IAC/InterActive Corp. might also have have an interest in the company.
Sources: Wall Street Journal, Reuters
Commentary: Google: Focused on Better Targeted Advertising • Google, Yahoo, AOL, MSN: Big on Internet Advertising • Google CPA Ads Could Be Expanded To Search Platform
Stocks/ETFs to watch: Microsoft Inc. (MSFT), Google Inc. (GOOG), IAC/InterActiveCorp (IACI), Morgan Stanley (MS). ETFs: SPDR DJ Wilshire Large Cap (ELR), First Trust Dow Jones Internet Index (FDN), First Trust IPOX-100 Index (FPX)
Conference call transcripts: Microsoft F2Q07 (Qtr End 12/31/06), Google Q4 2006
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