Microsoft has put digital design agency Razorfish up for sale and has appointed Morgan Stanley to help find a suitable buyer for the company.
One possible bidder is understood to be French advertising agency Publicis Groupe, which is planning more acquisitions in the online advertising business. The company bought Irish online advertising agency Interactive Return last year for an undisclosed sum.
Razorfish was acquired by Microsoft in 2007 as part of its acquisition of aQuantive in 2007 for US$6bn.
According to reports, Razorfish may come with a US$600m–US$700m price tag. The Seattle-headquartered firm is one of the largest digital agencies in the US, with clients such as Nike and Kraft. It recorded sales of US$400m last year.
Large advertising agencies are seeing a rapid shift of budgets into the digital world, and a number of other marketing agencies could be eyeing up the Razorfish opportunity.
It is understood that Razorfish presents something of a conflict of interest for Microsoft with its Microsoft Advertising business, and represents an opportunity for the company to raise cash by selling off a valuable asset.
By John Kennedy