Stagwell Group, the agency network founded by former Microsoft executives Mark Penn and Steve Ballmer, is set to invest $100 million in MDC Partners, according to today's The Wall Street Journal.
If the deal is finalized, Penn -- well-known as a longtime political strategist for Hillary and Bill Clinton -- is expected to lead MDC as part of the investment. However, Stagwell is not expected to fully acquire MDC, but may get a couple of board seats at MDC, which will remain as a separate publicly traded entity.
Stagwell declined to comment, while MDC Partners issued a statement: "The strategic review process we previously announced remains ongoing. We have no comment on the rumors and speculation surrounding this process. We will provide updates on both the strategic review and CEO successor search at the appropriate time."
Penn admitted to MediaPost back in August that he was "closely following" the situation surrounding MDC Partners after then-CEO Scott Kauffman mentioned to investors his company is open to disposing certain assets. Yet, Penn said he didn't specifically covet any one MDC shop at that time.
Most MDC agencies fit into what Penn calls his "Noah's Ark" strategy that seeks to collect "one or two of each kind of agency" in Stagwell's portfolio.
Penn also told MediaPost he’s not a “micromanager.” Hs holding company’s decentralized approach helps acquired firms deliver their “full potential in a digital-first world,” unlike more traditional holding companies.