WPP buys US research firm for $45m

WPP GROUP, the world's biggest advertising and marketing communications firm, has expanded its technology information service with the $45m acquisition of US-based IntelliQuest Information Group.

IntelliQuest, listed on the Nasdaq index, provides global research products and services to hi-tech companies. Its clients include Internet companies, consultants, as well as telecoms firms, consumer electronics and software companies. In 1998 IntelliQuest, which has more than 200 employees, recorded a loss of $3.3m on sales of $26.4m. It had net assets of $40.1m.

When the transaction is completed in the fourth quarter, IntelliQuest will be integrated into Millward Brown, a wholly-owned arm of WPP that specialises in advertising and brand research. Millward Brown is part of Kantar Group, WPP's information and consultancy division.

"They've got strong people in software development and data services, plus valuable databases with panels of executives from different high- tech industries," said David Jenkins, chief executive and chairman of Kantar Group, commenting on IntelliQuest.

"For our research companies that is a strong asset. We will add that to the capabilities of our existing companies and expand it beyond the US."

IntelliQuest, headquartered in Austin, Texas, and with satellite offices in Atlanta, Redwood City, California, and London, runs a marketing research service and Zona Research, which provides analysis of Internet and intranet markets.

Last month, IntelliQuest sold IQ2.net, a product warrantee registration database, to Naviant Technology for $46.5m.

As part of yesterday's purchase, Millward Brown has an exclusive licence to use the IQ2.net database for market research. The $45m consideration includes $42.5m in cash and a further $2.5m dependent on the company meeting performance targets.

Brian Sharples, IntelliQuest chief executive, said: "This merger will significantly increase our ability to serve multi-national clients."

WPP stock added 3.5p to 570.5p ahead of interim results scheduled for release on Monday.