Just months after securing its third UK acquisition, US data-driven marketing agency Merkle has itself been acquired after selling a majority stake to global media group Dentsu Aegis Network.
Merkle’s own spending spree started in 2015, with the acquisition of performance marketing and programmatic agency Periscopix. This was followed in February this year, when it bought independent data specialist DBG, with CRM and realtime marketing specialist Comet Global Consulting following a month later.
Now Dentsu has come calling for the business, which is one of Google and Facebook’s first and biggest data partners.
The deal, which it is estimated values the firm at $1.5bn, sees Merkle join Dentsu Aegis’ nine existing global brands, although it will remain semi-autonomous after the deal, with CEO David Williams (pictured) remaining in charge.
Merkle employs more than 3,600 people in 21 offices worldwide serving 650 major clients such as Pandora and News Corp. The company provides data analytics and performance marketing.
Williams will be the company’s second largest shareholder after the deal closes, with some shareholders including primary investor Technology Crossover Ventures selling to Dentsu Aegis. The deal is the largest Dentsu Aegis has made of more than 80 acquisitions over the past three years, joining its roster of brands including agencies Carat and McGarryBowen.
“I didn’t want to be a small public company,” Williams said. “From my vantage point it was important to find a place where we could create leverage and operating scale.”
Last month, Dentsu created what it claimed is the largest B2B agency in the world by snapping UK Gyro, for an undisclosed sum.
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