Microsoft Steps Up Talks With Potential Razorfish Buyers

Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) is continuing to make the rounds of the major ad-holding companies as tries to find a buyer for its interactive shop Razorfish. Sources confirmed a WSJ report that has WPP Group started due diligence on a possible deal for the digital agency as early as this week. In addition to WPP, other prospective buyers include Omnicom Group, Interpublic Group, Dentsu and Publicis Groupe, which many observers still think has the best shot at getting Razorfish. The agency became a part of Microsoft when it bought aQuantive for $6 billion nearly two years ago.

Despite all the increased chatter lately about Microsoft’s interest in unloading Razorfish, all parties are still in the early talking stages. A deal is not expected until later in the fall at the earliest, sources told paidContent. Aside from the relatively hefty starting price of between $400 and $600 million, the companies involved are wary of upsetting their delicate relationships with both Microsoft and Google.

For that reason, Microsoft is not expected to limit its meetings to the ad agencies. A number of agency executives I’ve spoken to believe that Microsoft is also focusing on setting up talks with private-equity firms like General Atlantic. Still, most of the interest in Razorfish appears to be coming from Publicis and WPP, both of which have continued to make digital acquisitions a much higher priority than its peers.