In pursuit of a global, digital network, Dentsu Aegis has taken a majority stake in Maryland-based marketing agency Merkle, acquiring them from Technology Crossover Ventures and other shareholders.
Merkle employs 3,400 staff with 16 of its 21 offices located in the US, others are present in London, Bristol, Barcelona, Shanghai. It claims to be one of the US’ largest independent agencies for CRM, digital, and search with $436m of revenues in 2015.
As Dentsu derives to be a 100 per cent digital economy business by 2020, the Merkle acquisition gives it a larger global footprint, especially in the US.
David Williams, Merkle chairman and chief executive officer, said: “As we considered a new investment partner, we sought a fit that would complement our vision, escalate our brand, and provide growth opportunities for our people, while also valuing Merkle’s unique strengths and culture.
“Through this process I’ve spent a lot of time with Dentsu Aegis Network’s leadership team. Their vision, ambition and perspective on the people-based marketing opportunity align with ours at Merkle.”
Jerry Buhlmann, chief executive officer of Dentsu Aegis, added: “Our investment in Merkle is a unique opportunity to bring together two great businesses which have a strong fit in strategic, product, cultural and geographic terms. As the latest brand in our global network, Merkle will be able to accelerate its transformation into an international agency, by leveraging our global reach and platforms and providing new capabilities to our clients.
“The growth of the digital economy is one of the few certainties in an uncertain world. Merkle brings a powerful range of data led, fully addressable and real time capabilities. The combination of our two businesses will create a compelling offer in that context for existing and potential clients.”
Mark Williams, director at Results, that advised on the sale of UK businesses DBG and Periscopix to Merkle, told The Drum: “Many in the UK will be unfamiliar with Merkle, yet it is one of the largest independent agencies in the US. It is a hugely exciting business, operating at the forefront of data driven marketing.
“Make no mistake, this is a massive deal for our industry, probably as big as an acquisition of an independent can be… Merkle is still at the relatively early stage of pursuing global growth by storm - after all it only made inroads into Europe 18 months ago – and it’s a big decision for an agency to partner with an already established global network rather than continue to go it alone at this stage in its development.
“Merkle has been on a super high growth trajectory for several years, building the foundations for a next generation data-driven agency. This deal will propel it further forwards on this path.”
The acquisition is expected to close September 2016.