Agency tracker COMvergence is out with a new report that shows Dentsu was the most acquisitive holding company during the first half of the year with eight M&A deals. Those deals involved firms with a combined head count of 880 and estimated revenues of $122 million.
WPP was ranked second with six deals, adding 347 staffers to the holding company’s workforce and with combined revenues of $22 million.
Overall M&A activity has slowed considerably in the past couple of years per the report. M&A activity fell 25% last year to just 87 deals versus 2016. Both Dentsu and WPP made about one-third fewer deals last year versus the prior year. There were just 30 deals in H1 2018 versus 45 during the same 2017 period.
Publicis Groupe rounded out the top three first-half 2018 acquirers with four deals accounting for a total of 54 staffers and $5 million in combined revenue.
Japanese holding company Hakuhodo was fourth-ranked with two deals, including the largest by staff count: Vietnam-based Square Group, with 550 staffers and $40 million in revenue.
Among IT and consulting companies Accenture Digital was the biggest wheeler dealer in the first half with three deals, including the second largest: Germany’s Mackevision (520 staffers, $50 million in revenue).
Accenture also acquired Meredith’s MXM during the period, which COMvergence ranks as the third largest deal (450 staff, $100 million revenue).
Over the past three years, Accenture has been the most acquisitive player overall, per the report, adding nearly 5,400 in staff via mostly larger deals for digital agencies.
Just missing the cutoff period was IPG’s proposed blockbuster acquisition of Acxiom Marketing Solutions for $2-plus billion announced on July 2. That deal will be covered in the next edition of COMvergence’s “Radar on M&A” report. Had the deal hit two days earlier, we’d be looking at a different first half M&A king.