Merkle chiefs pocket millions as Dentsu completes deal

david williams merkle 2While many agency chiefs have been forced to take a pay cut, bosses at Merkle could soon find themselves with bulging pockets following Dentsu Aegis Network’s decision to bring forward its full purchase of the data and analytics business after securing a majority stake in 2016.

The move, which comes just weeks after Dentsu Aegis Network appointed DDB Worldwide boss Wendy Clark global chief executive, sees the agency group snap up the remaining 34% of Merkle shares.

According to some reports Dentsu Aegis is to shell out $108m (£86.4m) to buy shares from the agency’s staff and shareholders, although they will have to wait until 2021 to get their hands on the cash.

It is claimed that up to 25 senior Merkle executives – including chair and CEO David Williams – will also be receiving “golden handcuffs” deals, dishing them out shares worth about $60m in a long-term retention scheme. Again, they will have to wait though, collecting shares in 2023.

The move will also allow key individuals within Merkle to take on global roles across Dentsu Aegis.

Toshi Yamamoto, president and chief executive, Dentsu Group, and acting executive chairman and chief executive, Dentsu Aegis Network, said: “At a time of considerable uncertainty, this agreement provides clarity to our employees, clients and stakeholders. This accelerated integration will help to further future-proof the business, enabling revenue growth and improving operating margins globally. Merkle represents the highest growth area of the overall business.”

Launched in the US in the Seventies as a data processing company, it expanded into CRM and data analytics in 1988 when Williams took control and by 2016 Merkle was employing more than 3,600 people in 21 offices worldwide serving 650 major clients.

Merkle expanded into the UK in 2015, with the acquisition of performance marketing and programmatic agency Periscopix. This was followed in February 2016, when it bought independent data specialist DBG, with CRM and realtime marketing specialist Comet Global Consulting following a month later.

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