Harris Divests 'Buy/Sell' Unit, Adds New Twist To Madison Avenue's Back Office

Madison Avenue's data supply chain took another turn Thursday as technology and data processing giant Harris Corp. announced the sale of its Broadcast Communications unit to a private equity firm that describes itself as a “strategic buyer.” The transaction, which comes in the wake of the consolidation of the ad industry's two biggest data processing suppliers -- Donovan Data Systems and MediaBank -- into Mediaocean earlier this year, puts another wrinkle on the supply chain that processes billions of dollars in advertising and media buys.

Harris, which put Broadcast Communications on the block in April, said it agreed to sell the unit to an affiliate of The Gores Group for $225 million.

The unit primarily provides content and data distribution systems for electronic media outlets, but also has a “media management” division that is a key supplier to the burgeoning digital out-of-home media industry, as well as “advertising buy/sell” hardware and software to advertisers, agencies and the media.



It wasn’t clear at presstime what the share of Madison Avenue’s media-buying processing Broadcast Communications accounts for, but Gores Managing Director Ryan Wald stated that the company would provide “capital and support” to make it an “independent company.”

Gores describes itself as an investment firm that “combines the operational expertise and detailed due diligence capabilities of a strategic buyer with the seasoned M&A team of a traditional financial buyer.”

In fact, Gores appears to have gotten a good deal on Broadcast Communications. Harris paid $340 million for precursor company Encoda in 2004. Harris also reported a $424 million “impairment” charge on the unit for its fiscal third quarter.

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