ALC, DMI mull merger

American List Counsel (ALC) may become a bigger fish in the list industry pond. The Princeton, NJ-based list firm has signed a nonbinding letter of intent with Little Rock, AR-based information provider Acxiom Corp. for a proposed merger with Acxiom’s Direct Media Inc. (DMI) list division.

According to a joint statement, Acxiom would hold a minority equity stake in ALC, with ALC retaining management and board control. The statement also said that “it is anticipating that ALC will enter into a long-term strategic alliance with Acxiom for information management services.”

Dave Florence, chairman of Acxiom/Direct Media, says that ALC instigated the deal. “The merger is something that ALC really wanted,” he says. “ALC presented it as an opportunity for Direct Media to work with people who understand the list business. The list business isn’t Acxiom’s core business, so Acxiom doesn’t understand it as well as it could.” Florence adds that there is no deadline for signing a deal. “I have no idea if or when it will go forward. None of the nitty-gritty details have been worked out.”

At this point, clients of the two companies are uncertain what a merger would mean to them. “I expect we’ll deal with the usual short-term dislocation that goes along with any shift like this,” says Bill Williams, president of Portland, OR-based Bear Creek, an ALC client, which mails the Harry and David and Jackson & Perkins catalogs. “But I’m sure we’ll see a gradual improvement to what ALC has to offer on its own.”