SAN FRANCISCO: International online advertising network AKQA, founded in London in 1997 by chairman Ajaz Khowaj Quoram Ahmed, is in process of selling a majority stake in itself to Connecticut private equity firm General Atlantic.

Ahmed made both his name and fortune by persuading the UK's largest electronics retailer, Dixons Stores Group, to launch free ISP concept Freeserve in 1998. The business was subsequently sold for £1.6 billion to France Telecom-owned Wanadoo.

Although the parties to the AKQA deal are zip-lipped about its terms, word is that the agency was seeking around $250 million (€192.9m; £127.15m) to buy-out previous investors who, as ceo Tom Bedecarre delicately puts it, "were interested in being liquid".

According to agency insiders, AKQA's revenues hit around $70m in 2006, with around $100m forecast for the current year. General Atlantic managing director Anton Levy sees AKQA, as a "platform where we can add more capabilities."

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online. additional content by WARC staff