HH Global swallows US giant to boost expansion plans

robert-macmillan2HH Global Group, the marketing activation company which owns a big chunk of Blueberry Wave, has now swallowed up one of its main rivals by acquiring Chicago-headquartered InnerWorkings in an all-cash deal worth $177m (£140m).

The move comes seven months after HH Global secured a £100m war chest – in a deal with Blackstone Tactical Opportunities – to develop its data and digital multichannel marketing offering through further acquisitions. Blackstone has more than $554bn (£422bn) in assets under management.

While InnerWorkings is relatively unknown in the UK market – even industry trade rag Print Week has hardly covered the firm – its European operation, based in Solihull, can trace its roots back to 1984.

However, it is the company’s North American division which HH Global has its beady eye on. Overall, the group has a $1.16bn (£870m) turnover although its market capitalisation is currently $150m (£119m). Its clients include Adidas, Unilever, HSBC, FedEx and Procter & Gamble.

The transaction has already been unanimously approved by the boards of both companies, and will create what the duo claim is a “world-class marketing engineering and execution firm that is well-positioned to serve global clients seeking innovative, end-to-end marketing solutions that lower costs and improve brand consistency, visibility, sustainability and speed to market”.

InnerWorkings’ North American operation, combined with HH Global’s presence in EMEA and APAC, gives the company global reach and scale.

The deal is also likely to provide Blueberry Wave with a new route into the US market. Since HH Global acquired a majority stake in Blueberry Wave’s parent firm, Veriteva, the data business led by Nick Dixon has already set up shop in San Francisco, as well as Hong Kong.

HH Global chairman and group CEO Robert MacMillan (pictured) said: “This combination significantly accelerates our ability to execute on the next phase of our strategy by broadening our service offering and expanding our global reach.

“Not only do our two companies have complementary offerings, capabilities and geographic operations, but we also share a deep commitment to quality, innovation and operational excellence. We have long admired InnerWorkings and have got to know the management team well over the last few months, and we are confident that together we will create an even stronger company. We look forward to welcoming InnerWorkings to the HH Global family.”

InnerWorkings CEO Rich Stoddart added: “In these times of significant economic uncertainty, the board and management determined to undertake a comprehensive process to preserve and enhance value for shareholders. After exploring a range of financing and strategic alternatives, and implementing meaningful cost saving measures in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, we’re confident this combination represents the best path forward for our shareholders and InnerWorkings.”

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