IPG Surprises Agency M&A Market With Acxiom Deal: Dentsu, WPP Lead In Volume

Madison Avenue went on a shopping spree during the first three quarters of 2018, spending billions to bolster the big agency holding company’s holdings. While Dentsu and WPP were most acquisitive in terms of the number of deals (13 acquisitions and 11, respectively), Interpublic did one that was by far the largest: the $2 billion-plus acquisition of consumer data company Acxiom.

That one deal alone adds 2,100 people to Interpublic’s organization, as well as $667 million in incremental annual revenues (based on most recent estimates).

“With 13 acquisitions for Dentsu and 11 for WPP, the two holding companies have increased their overall workforce by 1,160-plus and 1,360-plus staff, respectively,” says independent international marketplace researcher Comvergence in its “Radar on M&A” report analyzing the major agency holding company deals through the third quarter of this year.

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“The biggest surprise,” Comvergence continues, “came from a buyer usually discreet for the past decade: Interpublic. In July the holding company acquired Acxiom, a database marketing company of more than 2.2B consumers and 2,100 staff.”

Another surprising player Comvergence is keeping an eye on is former WPP chief Sir Martin Sorrell's S4 Capital, which acquired Dutch digital content firm MediaMonks in August.

Founded in 2001, MediaMonks has 11 offices in 10 countries, employs 750 people, and has a roster of world-renowned brands such as Google, Netflix, Shell and Johnson & Johnson.

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