Marketing services group MSQ has completed the acquisition of the Be Heard Partnership, placing an “enterprise value” on the agency of £20.6m, and revealed plans for the enlarged group to be net carbon negative from early next year.
Be Heard was delisted from the London Stock Exchange (AIM) this morning and now joins MSQ in a deal backed by financing from the Manchester arm of private equity firm LDC.
Be Heard’s senior management have invested in the enlarged group, which now has a headcount of 785 based in the UK, Asia and the US and pools Be Heard’s agencies MMT Digital, Freemavens and Agenda21, with MSQ’s Stack, The Gate/ Walk-In Media, Holmes & Marchant, Smarts, Stein IAS and Twentysix.
The acquisition is designed to bolster MSQ’s digital tech and data analytics, areas that MSQ believes have become even more important during the Covid-19 pandemic and will accelerate the group’s growth.
This strategy has been further strengthened by the appointment of the group’s first chief data officer, Robert Goodwin, who has led data strategy teams at Wunderman Thompson UK, Outra, Lida (now M&C Saatchi) and JWT Worldwide.
Chief executive Peter Reid said: “Through the acquisition, we will add significant depth, scale and expertise in digital tech and data analytics; areas that make us more relevant to a greater number of clients in a world where these talents are increasingly sought. Connecting those tech skills with MSQ’s creative skills will make us one of the leading tech enabled groups.
“It’s an exciting time in MSQ’s development, not least transacting a deal and integrating two groups in the virtual, and often challenging environment, that we are currently operating in. A number of interesting discussions are already taking place between the agencies and new business opportunities are arising as a result both in the UK and across our international offices.”
Former Be Heard chief operating officer Ben Rudman, who now takes up the role of and executive director of MSQ, commented: “Culturally and strategically the businesses are a great fit, with strong agencies that come together in a multi-disciplinary offering. I’m confident that our agencies will thrive under private ownership in an enlarged group with complementary skills.”
Commenting on the group’s drive to be net carbon negative, Rudman added: “We’ve a number of group-wide initiatives underway already, one of which is achieving net carbon negative status by early next year. We believe it is the right thing to do and work has started across the agencies to make it a reality.”
MSQ’s client list now includes Vodafone, Unilever, GSK, Peugeot, Nestlé and HM Government. The intention is that all London-based agencies will share a new office from the middle of next year.
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