AT&T Inc. is in talks to acquire advertising technology company AppNexus, according to people familiar with the matter, a deal that would give the telecom giant a foothold in digital ad sales as it seeks to become a challenger to Alphabet Inc.’s Google GOOG, -0.46% GOOGL, -0.41% and Facebook Inc. FB, -0.41%
AT&T T, +0.62% is expected to pay around $1.6 billion, the people said. AppNexus, which is backed by investors including ad giant WPP PLC WPP, -0.14% WPP, +1.53% , investment firm TCV and Wall Street Journal parent News Corp. NWSA, -0.68% , was valued at $1.8 billion in a 2015 funding round.
The company filed confidentially for an initial public offering in 2016 but has held off amid an unforgiving climate for public offerings.
Acquiring AppNexus would advance AT&T’s ambitions to build a robust advertising business. AppNexus operates one of the largest online ad exchanges, automated marketplaces that allow advertisers to buy space across thousands of websites, targeting their desired audiences.
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