Ogilvy & Mather acquires stake in Eightytwenty in Ireland

ogilvyWPP‘s wholly-owned marketing communications network, Ogilvy & Mather, has acquired a stake in its digital partner and Irish digital communications business, Eightytwenty Customer Experience Limited.

 Dublin-based Eightytwenty employs around 30 people and has developed a bespoke model that combines creative, data, performance media and technology to design and deliver campaign narratives across the entire customer journey

Ogilvy & Mather and Eightytwenty have been working together since 2015. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

UK, London & Ireland, Dublin

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Keywords Studios acquires Spov 

keywordsKeywords Studios, a technical services provider to the video games industry, has acquired Spov Ltd. for up to £1.2 million in cash from its founder, Allen Leitch. Based in London, UK, Spov provides creative development, cinematics, UI, visual effects and motion graphics services to the video game and film markets. ()

Founded in 2007 by Allen Leitch, Spov maintains a small team of creatives in London and manages a network of experienced designers, animators, film makers and artists to produce intricate footage for use in video games, film and TV. The company has worked on titles that include Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Watch Dogs, The Division, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare; Batman: Arkham Knight and Marvel’s Doctor Strange.

 Fred Stockton, Global Art Service Line Director, Keywords Studios commented: “We are thrilled to have Allen and the Spov team of talented creative professionals join the Art Service Line at Keywords Studios.  Their skills and experience will enhance our ability to provide a broader range of services to our clients.  Likewise, we look forward to meeting with Spov clients to share with them the full spectrum of capabilities that Keywords Studios has to offer.  This acquisition will strengthen our market position as a leading provider of digital art services and will contribute to our continuing growth in this area.”

Ireland, Dublin & UK, London

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RWS Holdings plc to acquire life sciences language services provider LUZ

rwsRWS Holdings plc, a provider of intellectual property support services (patent translations, international patent filing solutions and searches), commercial translations and linguistic validation, is to acquire LUZ, Inc., a US based life sciences language services provider for $82.5 million. RWS is placing 12.1 million new Ordinary Shares to raise £40 million to part-fund the Acquisition. The balance will be funded from a new $26.3 million banking facility with Barclays Bank as well as existing RWS cash resources.The acquisition is expected to complete on 17 February 2017 following completion of the Placing.

luzBased in San Francisco with around 100 employees, LUZ is a life sciences translation provider, specialising in medical devices and regulatory activities. LUZ services a number of the world’s leading pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers. Services include translation, desktop publishing, client review coordination, and project management.

In the year to 31 December 2016, LUZ delivered revenue of $29.2 million (2015: $23.7 million; 2014: $21.2 million) and operating profit of $7.7 million (2015: $3.6 million; 2014: $3.4 million).

The operational management team of LUZ is expected to continue in current roles; the founders and current owners will exit in full after a short transition period.

Andrew Brode, Chairman of RWS, commented: “We are delighted to be acquiring LUZ which, together with CTi, will strengthen the Enlarged Group as a leading player in the global Life Sciences translation space, with a significant presence across North America, Europe and Asia. We are also pleased with the level of support we have received from existing shareholders and new institutional investors in the Placing.”

UK, Chalfont St Peter & USA, San Francisco, CA

Independent British energy supplier Ovo acquires U.S. smart grid technology company VCharge

ovoOVO Energy, a UK based independent energy supplier, has acquired of US energy technology company, VCharge. Headquartered near Boston, VCharge has developed a proprietary technology platform that changes how electric grids are controlled in preparation for the rapid transition to renewable energy and energy storage, helping to solve the problem of renewables intermittency. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

vchargeThe groundbreaking technology uses advanced algorithms to balance grid requirements with individual user requirements.  The first application of the pioneering technology controls electric storage heating in social housing to better manage resident comfort and to address the issue of fuel poverty in local communities, while simultaneously supporting the widespread adoption of renewable energy by providing valuable grid balancing services.

VCharge heating controls are fitted to new or existing electric storage heaters and can be controlled via a smartphone.  When coupled with a new smart tariff, residents experience dramatically improved comfort, lower bills and have control over their heating systems for the first time.

VCharge has completed a number of successful trials of the technology over the last year with major social housing landlords in London, Scotland and the North East, and, with OVO, will begin offering free heating control upgrades combined with a new smart energy tariff to the 1.5m households in Great Britain with electric storage heaters later this year.

The acquisition is the first in OVO’s seven year history.

Stephen Fitzpatrick, CEO of OVO, said: “I’m thrilled to bring VCharge into the OVO family. The team have been doing incredibly exciting and important work in developing technologies that answer the enormous challenge of how to bring more renewable energy to grids around the world. We believe this platform will harness the potential of energy storage in reducing dependency on fossil fuels, while helping to make energy more affordable for all.”

UK, Bristol & USA, Boston, MA

Ascential plc acquires MediaLink for up to $207M

ascentialAscential plc the B2B media company, is to acquire US-based media advisory and business services provider MediaLink for an initial cash price of $69 million plus earnouts.

The earnouts are payable over the period to February 2021 based on the adjusted EBITDA of the business for the three years 2017 to 2019 and are expected to total between $42m and $62m. The earnouts are payable in cash or, for certain elements, shares at Ascential’s option and a portion of the earn-out payments is subject to founders remaining in employment with the company. The total aggregate consideration, including initial consideration and earn out payments, is capped at $207m and requires stretching profit targets to be reached.

MediaLink reported unaudited revenue of $54 million and adjusted PBT of $14 million in 2016, with year-on-year growth of 29% and 24% respectively, and had gross assets of $11 million at December 2016.

The company serves the consumer goods and services segment and operates from four offices in the U.S. Michael Kassan founded Medialink in 2003, he will continue to run the business.

Duncan Painter, Chief Executive Officer of Ascential plc, said: “MediaLink is a leader in its industry, with a strong and very visible brand presence in the US. MediaLink is an excellent fit with our existing Ascential offering and I am confident we can help accelerate MediaLink’s business into new markets by using our assets and infrastructure over the coming months and years. I see synergies between MediaLink and our portfolio of products to significantly help accelerate our existing businesses and create additional value for shareholders.”

UK, London & USA, New York, NY

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Be Heard Group acquires 75% of Freemavens for £1.7M

be-heardBe Heard Group Plc, a digital marketing services group, is to acquire a 75% stake in Freemavens Limited, a marketing analytics and innovation consultancy specialising in the use of big data, for a total consideration of around £1.7m. 

For the financial year ended 31 December 2016 Freemavens delivered £1.72 million gross revenue and £0.41m adjusted EBITDA.

freemavensBe Heard will acquire 75% of Freemavens’ equity for £0.84m, that is £0.48m in cash and the issue of 9,303,766 new Be Heard shares. As part of the Acquisition, Be Heard will also repay Freemavens’ existing debt obligations of around £0.87m, due principally to the exiting majority shareholder Let‘s Go Crazy Limited, taking the total consideration to approximately £1.7m. 

The remaining 25% of Freemavens’ equity is being retained by its two founders, who are continuing with the business, and will be subject to a put and call option exercisable after four years, payable 50% in cash and 50% in new Be Heard shares, at a valuation of the lower of 2x historic revenue and 8x historic EBITDA. The maximum total consideration payable is £7.7m. 

Founded in 2012 by Andrej Moyseowicz and Christopher Palengat, Freemavens is an analytics and innovation consultancy which aims to solve clients’ business challenges and develop insights and actionable ideas using big data. The agency, with its 20-strong team, has developed several in-house data analytics tools and methodologies and has clients including Unilever, Barclays, Channel 4 and RNLI.

Peter Scott, Executive Chairman of Be Heard said: “The Freemavens team will give Be Heard industry leading analytics capability, and once bedded into our Group will augment and enhance the work we do for clients. Intelligent use of data underpins all decision making; our intention is to develop the analytics capability at Be Heard as a central function and resource for our clients. Bringing the exceptional Freemavens team into the fold is, I believe, a bold first step.”  

 Completion of the Acquisition is conditional upon completion of a cash placing to raise gross proceeds of £2.1m.

UK, London

WPP invests in virtual reality company SubVRsive in the US

wppWPP has made an investment in SubVRsive, Inc., a technology company that works with advertisers that want to engage consumers in the emerging virtual reality and augmented reality sector.

SubVRsive’s clients include the American Heart Association, Lionsgate Entertainment, Procter & Gamble and Showtime Networks. It is based in Austin, Texas and was founded in 2015.

SubVRsive works with directors, producers, content creators and developers to develop video, apps and interactive experiences for virtual reality devices and computers. Separately, in November WPP invested alongside IMAX and others to create US$50 million fund focused on developing virtual reality media projects.

UK, London & USA, Austin, TX

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