The Financial Times is reporting that Microsoft has retained Morgan Stanley to find a buyer for Razorfish, the online ad agency it picked up when it acquired aQuantive a bit more than 2 years ago. Microsoft is not commenting on the story, but it would make sense since an ad agency is not a great fit for Microsoft’s main Web advertising business which is in the uncomfortable position of courting rival ad agencies. A possible buyer is the French marketing company Publicis Groupe which just last Thursday announced a "broad strategic agreement" with Microsoft.
There had been rumors of an asset swap for Razorfish with ad giant WPP Group in August 2008, but that never panned out and now that two years have passed since the aQuantive acquisition, favorable tax treatment would make an outright sale more likely. It also does not hurt that Microsoft might get $600-$700 million back on the hefty US$6 billion they overpaid for aQuantive.