UPDATE 1-US publisher Hearst nears deal to buy iCrossing-WSJ

Mon Apr 19, 2010 5:17am EDT

(Adds comments from iCrossing)

April 19 (Reuters) - U.S. newspaper and magazine publisher Hearst Corp is closer to buying digital marketing company iCrossing for about $375 million, the Wall Street Journal said, citing people familiar with the matter.

The iCrossing deal would help Hearst to augment its Web presence and win more advertisement dollars from the Internet, the Journal said.

In the deal, which is in the final stages of negotiations, iCrossing is likely to fetch about $375 million, plus bonus payments if it reaches certain targets, the people told the paper.

"While going through the process of evaluating iCrossing's position in the market, we have spoken with, and entered into, non-disclosure agreements with many companies," iCrossing's spokesperson Dana Mellecker told Reuters.

"It would be inappropriate to disclose the details of any of these discussions," Mellecker added.

iCrossing, one of biggest independent digital marketing company in the United States, helps clients to pitch their products on the Internet, via cellphones and through other interactive channels, the newspaper said.

Digital marketing companies have attracted investment interest from advertisement agencies and other industry players as marketers shift more of their ad dollars from traditional media to the Internet, according to the paper.

Hearst owns 15 newspapers and publishes 14 magazine titles in the U.S. Popular brands include newspapers like The San Francisco Chronicle and fashion magazine Cosmopolitan.

Hearst could not be immediately reached for comment by Reuters outside regular U.S. business hours. (Reporting by Sakthi Prasad in Bangalore; Editing by Louise Heavens)