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Infogroup ready to move past firm’s sale, scandal
OMAHA, NEB. (AP) - The new chief executive of database firm Infogroup said it’s ready to expand and move beyond the turmoil created by its sale to private investors and resignation of its founder after a spending scandal.
Clare Hart became Infogroup’s CEO on July 1, when private equity firm CCMP Capital Advisors completed its $460 million purchase of the Omaha-based company. The deal also included refinancing of about $175 million of Infogroup’s debt.
Hart said she’s been impressed by what she’s seen so far of Infogroup’s roughly 3,000 employees and its business and consumer information operations. Hart and her management team are developing a new strategic plan to help the company grow and grab a bigger share of the roughly $150 billion a year in direct marketing spending.
“I’m not focused on cost cutting and layoffs,” Hart said. “I’m focused on revenue growth.”
The CCMP deal drew criticism from two investment firms that together held about 11 percent of Infogroup’s stock because the firms said the sale was underpriced and ill-timed, but they did not succeed in scuttling it.
Infogroup’s founder, Vinod Gupta, lost his chairman and chief executive jobs in 2008 after a shareholder lawsuit raised questions about his use of company money to support a lavish lifestyle. He had held those posts from 1992 through August 2008.
“There have been too many distractions recently,” Malloy said. “The great thing the company has going for them now is those distractions are all out of the way and now they can get down to business.”
Hart said she believes there is a great deal of opportunity for Infogroup in direct marketing. More companies are using mail or electronic direct marketing instead of mass media because they can track the results, she said.
The Direct Marketing Association estimates 54 percent of the roughly $275 million spent on advertising in the United States last year was spend on direct marketing. Advertising spending is likely to grow as the economy recovers.
With that in mind, Hart said she expects to draw on her experience in the news business to help Infogroup expand. The company’s real value is in the way it processes data and makes it available to clients, she said.
“News and information are only as good as the delivery vehicle. Data is the same way,” Hart said.
Along with Infogroup’s main database unit and call centers in Omaha, the company owns market research firm Opinion Research, and it offers direct mail, e-mail and other marketing services. Infogroup has sizable operations in Omaha; Princeton, N.J.; Concord, Mass.; Pearl River, N.Y.; and Portland, Ore.
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