LBi: 'We're Talking Here,' Dutch Digital Indie Puts Itself On The Block
Less than a week after WPP announced its $540 million acquisition of San Francisco-based AKQA, another big independent digital agency network, Amsterdam-based LBi International, has effectively put itself on the block.
“The company has, for some time, received interest from potential suitors and, more recently, commenced initial discussions with third parties interested in pursuing further consolidation in the sector,” LBi said in a statement released early this morning, adding: "Such discussions are at a very preliminary stage and there can be no certainty that an offer will be made for the company."
According to RECMA’s last Top 50 digital agencies ranking report, LBi tied with Omnicom’s Proximity Worldwide as the 12th-largest digital agency groups with 1,800 employees each. That would make it the second-largest independent after SapientNitro, which RECMA ranked 5th with 3,540 employees.
Following WPP’s acquisition of AKQA, Forrester analyst Jim Nail told Online Media Daily that it was unlikely that publicly traded Sapient, with a market capitalization of $1.5 billion, would go into immediately play, noting: "It's not the kind of deal you can do over Cosmopolitans at Cannes," but speculated that LBi and another independent, Agencies of Change, are both "interesting possibilities for fueling Madison Avenue's digital feeding frenzy."
WPP’s acquisition of AKQA was definitely the big buzz during last week’s advertising festival in Cannes, France, but the big agency holding companies -- particularly WPP and Publicis -- have been acquisitive for some time, and the AKQA deal is only expected to heat things up.