NEW YORK Online advertising firm DoubleClick Inc. is exploring a sale and is in talks with Microsoft Corp. (MSFT.O) and other potential suitors, the Wall Street Journal reported on its Web site on Wednesday.
DoubleClick is using investment bank Morgan Stanley to help explore its options, including a possible stock market listing, according to the report, which quoted people familiar with the matter.
The advertising company is majority-owned by San Francisco private equity firm Hellman & Friedman, which is seeking at least $2 billion for DoubleClick, one person briefed on the situation told the Journal.
Such a price tag could amount to a hefty return for the private equity firm, which took DoubleClick private in mid-2005 in a deal worth $1.1 billion.
Founded in 1996, DoubleClick's shares suffered when the dot-come bubble burst in 2000 and 2001.
The company saw prices for its services squeezed as advertisers, paying steeper prices to appear on highly trafficked Internet sites and for producing splashier online ads, looked for lower costs when it care to the technology backing those ads.
In October 2004 DoubleClick hired Lazard Freres & Co. to explore the sale of part or all of its operations, which were mainly split between its Internet advertising management services and a more traditional database marketing division.
The Journal, citing a person familiar with the matter, reported that New York-based DoubleClick had about $150 million in revenue last year. More than $100 million came from serving ads for publishers to their Web pages and delivering the ads to be served on behalf of advertisers, it said.
DoubleClick and Hellman & Friedman could not immediately be reached for comment.