The deal is expected to be announced to the London Stock Market early on Monday 6 January but leaked reports have confirmed a provisional deal has been made between News Corp and Tremor.
The agreement will see News Corp take 6.91% of Tremor International stock, subject to an 18-month lock-up period and to certain adjustments, along with a total minimum revenue guarantee for News Corp of £30m, significantly less than it paid for the company.
In return, Tremor will take full ownership of Unruly. The deal also means Tremor will take over from Unruly in being the lead for video solutions for the News Corp group.
News Corp bought Unruly in September 2015 in a deal said to be worth over £58m.
News UK chief executive Rebekah Brooks could become a member of the Tremor board as part of the deal. Brooks left the business in 2011 after the phone-hacking scandal but returned to News Corp over four years ago.
“With this deal, Unruly and the relationship with News Corp bolster Tremor International’s supply side platform, giving us a global footprint and allowing us to more rapidly take our recently acquired RhythmOne offering to an international market,” said Ofer Druker, CEO of Tremor International. “Unruly’s positive brand awareness and the value it delivers to partners, including relationships with globally recognized media brands, will propel Tremor International’s business, particularly in the European and APAC markets where Tremor will run its business under the Unruly brand.”
Norm Johnston, CEO of Unruly said: “Unruly will benefit from Tremor’s wide range of formats, including advanced TV and In-App, as well as an analytics suite and yield optimisation tools. Together we’ll bring the power of emotions to video advertising to drive better results for advertisers, higher levels of engagement for consumers and more revenue for publishers. We are also grateful for the opportunity for Unruly to continue partnering with News Corp and its businesses around the world, with whom we have worked so closely and productively for years. And News Corp benefits from the transaction both financially and by having found a partner to take Unruly forward and drive digital outstream revenues.”
Robert Thomson, chief executive of News Corp, commented: “The sale of Unruly marks an important step in our strategy of simplification at News Corp, while we expect it to yield ongoing financial benefits. We look forward to partnering with Tremor and are grateful to Unruly and its truly talented team, who have helped our businesses in the U.K., US and Australia advance their digital advertising expertise.”
News Corp’s prospective sale of Unruly has been talked about for some time with rumours of it becoming public over four months ago.
With both Unruly and Tremor being leaders in video advertising, the move could be seen as further consolidation in the ad tech industry, a trend that has been happening for some years. From a Tremor perspective, which currently only lists US offices in its locations on its website, adding Unruly into the fold means it expands its geographic footprint, particularly with publisher deals in Europe and Asia Pacific.
Read The Drum's follow-up interview with Unruly boss Norm Johnston here. He talks us through this "win-win" situation.