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McCown & De Leeuw & Co., New York, agreed to acquire St. Louis direct marketing giant Dimac Marketing Corp. and Atlanta-based direct mail services company AmeriComm Holdings for a transaction valued at $450 million. McCown & De Leeuw, an investment company, owned Dimac from 1993 to 1996; it sold the company to Heritage Media, which was acquired by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. that same year. The new holding company is DMAC Holdings.

J. Walter Thompson Total Solutions Group, New York, formed a joint venture in database marketing with Phoenix Group, Farmington Hills, Mich. The new Phoenix Thompson Connect will add database marketing, fulfillment and teleservicing to Total Solutions' below-the-line activities. Phoenix Thompson, Detroit, opens with Ford Motor Co., a joint client of JWT and Phoenix Group, but will seek other clients, said Bob Panicara, senior partner at JWT USA, Detroit. The venture also will expand overseas, starting with Ford markets outside the U.S. Separately, JWT is opening a Total Solutions Group office in Chicago, headed by Jennifer Garr as director.

Acxiom Corp., a data services company based in Conway, Ark., and May & Speh, Downers Grove, Ill., specializing in modeling and analytics, have agreed to merge. The companies will exchange stock: 0.8 shares of Acxiom common stock for each share of May & Speh common stock. The merged company will have combined revenues of close to $700 million for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1999, and will be headquartered at a new facility in Little Rock, Ark.; products and services will be marketing under the Acxiom name.

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