U.S.-based D&B is rumored to have paid as much as USD60 million for Roadway, one of the many digital marketing companies operating in China.
While messages sent late last week to both Roadway and D&B to confirm the acquisition rumors have gone unanswered, Roadway's website at roadway.com.cn has altered itself in the last 24 hours and now has "A Huaxia D&B Company" prominently displayed at the top of all its pages.
Veteran Internet DM executives have confirmed with ChinaTechNews.com that they too have heard of the USD60 million price tag, a large multiple of Roadway's suspected annual revenues of only CNY45 million (about USD6.5 million). With investors such as China Seed Ventures, it is unclear if Roadway ever managed to make a profit prior to its sale. Sentiment within the Chinese DM and advertising sector is that 2010 will be a tough year as marketing, public relations, and advertising budgets of companies in China will be affected by poor sales in 2009, so Roadway's investors appear to have made a fast exit in the face of a dismal future.
Overseas rivals to D&B, such as Experian, Acxiom, and InfoGroup, have also made headway into the crowded Chinese direct marketing space. Acxiom purchased a small business named ChinaLoop a few years ago, and InfoGroup's YesMail subsidiary has an outpost in Xiamen that develops email marketing software.
(Updated July 16, 2009) D&B has issued the following statement to ChinaTechNews.com:
D&B clarifies today that the rumored sum of $60 million as the acquisition price for Roadway reported by some web media is substantially overstated. Details of the transaction will be disclosed in the company's quarterly earnings report. Although the company does not release any number till now, D&B says that its investments worldwide are always rational and cautious so as to protect investors and shareholder' interests. The successful acquisitions and mergers in the Asia Pacific region and worldwide in recent years have brought D&B improved competencies in the local markets and enriched its global business database and product offerings.