Majority stake in London indie Uncommon will ‘bring new energy’ to Havas
The French holding company has acquired a controlling stake in one of the most successful indie shops in Britain.
Havas has acquired Uncommon in a $120m deal / Havas
Havas has acquired a majority stake in creative Uncommon in a deal which values the vaunted London indie at £120m.
The deal, Havas boss Yannick Bolloré said, would “bring new energy” into the Havas network and bolster its creative edge at a time when many clients are being lured away from traditional suppliers by in-housing or the promise of generative AI.
“Uncommon have created a new space and energy in the industry. They are a once-in-a-decade company and having them join the Havas family is an exciting prospect. We share a vision: with every project, Uncommon and Havas remind the world that creativity is, and always has been, the difference,” he said.
According to Barry Dudley, partner at M&A consultancy Green Square, the deal could go some way to rounding out Havas’ client offer to the broader market.
“That’s quite a coup for Havas to snap up one of the brightest stars on the UK creative scene in recent years. And super smart for the Uncommon team – landing in a group known more for its media than its creative capabilities; that has arguably needed a statement creative asset in the family; that has the footprint to rapidly accelerate Uncommon’s growth; and gives them access to the broader Vivendi group,“ he says.
“The deal value will undoubtedly have been at the premium end of the spectrum and I’m fascinated by some of the words in the Havas release: ‘entrepreneurial approach’, ‘bucks the industry standard deals’, ‘valuing the future potential’. There’s quite a bit to delve into there.“
Uncommon’s founders, Lucy Jameson, Natalie Graeme and Nils Leonard, retain a 49% stake in the agency, and will continue to run the business at arm’s length from the wider Havas group.
Graeme said the deal would allow the business to open an office in New York and expand rapidly.
“Havas, along with its sister companies in Vivendi, offers Uncommon a way to accelerate into the spaces where we have already made headway,” she said.
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“Whether that’s into the entertainment world - taking what we started with our Nick Cave documentary – or our design practice, gaming or other geographies. This partnership will open doors globally for Uncommon.”
Leonard said that the deal would enable the agency to grow without sacrificing its identity or reputation. “This deal is different: it’s based on a freedom to make decisions, a power to break down barriers and the removal of dependency to make good things happen. We can create the industry we wish we worked in.”
Cuts are not expected to hit Uncommon’s staff of 160, while it expects to grow that headcount by hiring into its New York office.
Donna Murphy, global CEO of Havas Creative, said that “bringing Uncommon into Havas Creative Network creates a truly unique and powerful offering in the industry.”
“This will both accelerate Uncommon’s ambitions and expand the world-class offering of Havas.”