Report: Microsoft to sell Razorfish ad agency

French marketing company Publicis Groupe may top list of buyers

Microsoft is planning to sell Razorfish, its interactive ad agency, according to a report in Monday's Financial Times.

Razorfish fell under Microsoft's wing in 2007 when Microsoft bought aQuantive, a digital marketing services company, for about US$6 billion in order to grow its Internet advertising business and compete better with Google.

Morgan Stanley has been retained to find a buyer, the FT reported. Publicis Groupe, a large French advertising and marketing services company, is believed to be interested.

Neither Microsoft nor Publicis would comment. Morgan Stanley could not be immediately reached.

Last week, Publicis and Microsoft said they would work together on digital marketing and advertising technologies.

The partnership covers online video ads and an exchange program for TV ads.

The aQuantive deal marked Microsoft's biggest acquisition in the online advertising space, following Google's announcement in April 2007 of its intention to acquire DoubleClick, a rival online advertising firm.

AQuantive gave Microsoft digital advertising software and expertise for other services such as on-demand video and IP (Internet Protocol) television.

AQuantive also ran Atlas, a business that offers software and services for digital ad placement as well as another service, DRIVEpm, that helps advertisers and publishers manage campaigns and ad inventory.

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