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M&A For Media, Marketing Heats Up

  • Ad Age, Tuesday, July 20, 2010 11:28 PM
The merger-and-acquisition market in the media and marketing services sector was jolted awake late last year and has kept pace into 2010. The first six months saw more than 400 transactions totaling $21 billion, a deal value nearly triple that of the same period last year, according to investment-banking firm Jordan, Edmiston Group. By the firm's count, interactive media, marketing and technology (including mobile) propelled deals in the sector and accounted for 74% of activity in the first half, notes Ad Age

So far, 2010 has seen a second publisher buy its way into digital-marketing services. Hearst acquired Scottsdale, Ariz., independent iCrossing, following rival Meredith's lead down the agency road. Meredith has made a series of smaller acquisitions to build its marketing-services arm and most recently acquired mobile agency the Hyperfactory, after making a strategic stake in it last year. The last several months have also seen activity from overseas buyers such as Dentsu and Cheil Worldwide, which picked up Barbarian Group and 360i-parent Innovation Interactive, respectively.

But most media congloms remain conservative in their M&A approach after mega-mergers of the past, expectations of a slow economic recovery and fears of a new debt crisis, says The Hollywood Reporter. "We continue not to see any major acquisitions in our future," Viacom's Philippe Dauman said. News Corp.'s Chase Carey said his company would be "selective and judicious" about deals. Time Warner chief Jeff Bewkes said, "We will continue to be very disciplined as we look at acquisitions." During a PricewaterhouseCoopers event Tuesday, CBS Corp. president Leslie Moonves said of investors' focus: "Nobody wants us to buy anything. We are not looking for any major acquisitions."

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