Ascential acquires WARC for £24M

ascentialMedia and events business Ascential plc has acquired WARC Limited for an initial cash consideration of £19.5m, plus deferred consideration of £4.5m payable in 2019.  The acquisition is expected to complete on 2 July 2018.

WARC is a digital subscription business that helps brands, agencies and media platforms assess marketing effectiveness across all channels.  It provides information and insight to understand and measure multi-channel advertising effectiveness.  Founded in 1985, the business offers advertising best practice, evidence and insights from the world’s leading brands.  The business employs approximately 90 people with offices in London, Washington DC and Singapore and serves approximately 1,200 customers globally. 

In the year to 31 March 2018 WARC generated unaudited revenue of £10.8m (a growth of 10%) and EBITDA of £2.2m.  Gross assets at 31 March 2018 were £9.6m

Duncan Painter, CEO of Ascential, commented: “Ascential enables its customers to win in the digital economy.  WARC is an important step forward as we continue to grow our digital offering, adding breadth and depth to our marketing proposition.  Alongside Cannes Lions’ The Work, our recent digital product launch, we will now have a digital subscription product of scale encompassing both creative excellence and marketing effectiveness.”

UK, London

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YouGov acquires SMG Insight

smg_0YouGov, a market research and data analytics group, has acquired SMG Insight Limited, a global sports research agency. During 2010, YouGov formed a strategic research partnership with SMG Insight to support the agency’s growth and the Company has since held a 20% stake in the business. YouGov is to acquire the remaining 80% stake.

SMG Insight specialises in media measurement and sponsorship evaluation in the sports sector. With operations in the UK, US, UAE, India and Australia, SMG Insight has developed a global network of industry contacts and sponsors including the ATP World Tour, Emirates and the Volvo Ocean Race.

The remaining 80% stake is being acquired from Frank Saez, the founder and Managing Director of SMG Insight, who will continue in his role leading the team of 55 employees.  

As at 31 March 2018, SMG Insight had gross assets of £2.4 million and it generated £1.2 million PBT in the year to 31 March 2018. Cash consideration of £1 million is payable at completion, with a further £1 million payable in 12 months, in addition to deferred consideration reflecting a 4.25x multiple of EBITDA to be paid over a three year period. Total consideration is capped at £21 million.

Stephan Shakespeare, CEO of YouGov, commented: “For the SMG team, this represents a logical and exciting development as they see a strong partner of many years become a strong and committed parent. Frank and his team are leaders in the industry, and this deal represents another positive step in line with our guiding strategy: to align differentiated products and services in a single connected data system and generate new opportunities for growth.”

UK, London

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Content production company CreativeDrive acquires Zebra Worldwide

CreativeDriveIndependent global content production company CreativeDrive has acquired Zebra Worldwide to combine CreativeDrive’s network of over 150 studios in the U.S., Latin America, Asia and Europe with Zebra’s portfolio of video and content production and localization offices across London, Paris, Cape Town, Kiev and Sydney. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Zebra Worldwide was founded by Management Consultant Luke Hammersley and Creative Director/Writer Nic Franklin as a production company in May 2005. Zebra is a major international content partner for brands and agencies, providing still and moving image production, post-production, localisation and associated technology services through their office network. Through their independent client base and long-standing moving image localization partnership with adam&eve DDB, Zebra work with global brands such as Reckitt Benckiser, Hilton, Ryobi Powertools, Hotels.com, and in 2017 were live in over 100 markets internationally.

Zebra Worldwide will retain its identity in the short-term, eventually transitioning to become CreativeDrive EMEA in the coming months. Zebra Worldwide CEO and founder Luke Hammersley will become CreativeDrive EMEA CEO, reporting to CreativeDrive’s Global CEO, Myles Peacock. Nic Franklin becomes Creative Director and MD, Cape Town. Sarah Rose has been promoted from Finance Director to COO, EMEA.

CreativeDrive Global CEO Myles Peacock, said: “Zebra’s ability to deliver world class video and content production through their global teams and powerful localization platform addresses brands’ insatiable need for content that is customized for specific regions and cultures. The entire Zebra Worldwide team is a natural fit to both our existing culture and our mission to continuously challenge the status quo by consistently producing high-quality content with unparalleled speed and scale.”

USA, New York, NY & UK, London

Freeman acquires Info Salons

FreemanBrand experience company Freeman has acquired digital technology company Info Salons, a leading provider of registration and attendee database management solutions. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

With the acquisition, Freeman will benefit from Info Salons’ nearly 30 years of experience in the industry and its event technology solutions which aim to improve online and on-site registration processes and unlock attendee data and sales leads for show organizers. Going forward, Info Salons applications and tools will be fully integrated into the digital solutions offered by Freeman.

Richard Maranville, chief digital officer at Freeman, said, “We’re always looking for ways to simplify the event and show planning processes for our clients; and investing in leading digital technologies enables us to provide the robust capabilities show organizers need to thrive in the ever-evolving events industry. With the integration of Info Salons’ digital tools into our event management offerings, we’ll be better equipped to help our clients get the most out of their attendee data.”

USA, Dallas, TX & Australia, Surry Hills

Huntsworth acquires media strategy company AboveNation

HuntsworthHuntsworth plc, the international healthcare and communications group, has acquired 75% of AboveNation Media from Steve Minichini and John Lee for an initial consideration of $1.75m.

AboveNation Media is a New York-based full-service media strategy, planning and buying agency. AboveNation Media will provide integrated advertising technology solutions across Huntsworth’s Evoke Group business. AboveNation Media will continue to be led by its CEO, Steve Minichini and its President, John Lee and will report to Reid Connolly, CEO of Evoke Group.

The agreement to acquire 75% of AboveNation Media provides for an initial consideration of $1.75m and two deferred payments due in 2019 and 2021, based on a multiple of the EBITDA for the preceding years.

In addition, the agreement provides for a put and call option over the remaining 25% of AboveNation Media exercisable by the sellers or the Group from 1 January 2023. The consideration payable will be based on average EBITDA for the two calendar years immediately preceding.

The initial consideration will be financed through the Group’s existing facilities. Both the deferred consideration and the put and call option consideration payable, may be satisfied either in cash and/or ordinary shares of the Company.

The maximum amount of total consideration payable is capped at $25m.

AboveNation Media generated revenues of c. $1.3m and EBITDA of c. $0.5m in the year to 31 December 2017 and the Group expects the acquisition to be accretive to the Group’s earnings in the current financial year. AboveNation Media’s gross assets were $4.2m as at 31 December 2017.

Mr Connolly said, “The convergence of media and technology has changed the way brands and companies connect with their customers. AboveNation Media is a perfect strategic fit within our group and strengthens our commitment to a culture of innovation and accountability. By integrating the emotional insights that fuel great creative with advanced media strategy and technology, we not only create a more nimble and agile offering but we’re able to create smarter, harder working creative. Collectively we offer our clients the ability to engage and build more valuable relationships and to do so in the most advanced, efficient and, most importantly, transparent way possible.”

UK, London & New York, NY

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Nielsen Media Research to acquire Ebiquity’s AdIntel business for £26M

nielsenNielsen Media Research Limited is to acquire Ebiquity’s AdIntel business for £26 million.

The assets acquired have a total book value of £27.5 million. For the year ended 31 December 2017, the AdIntel business generated unaudited revenues of £21.9 million and operating profit of £4.4 million, before the allocation of central overheads

The Disposal is subject to approval from the Competition and Markets Authority. Completion is expected during the second quarter of 2018.

Michael Karg, CEO Ebiquity plc, commented: “This is a transformational moment for Ebiquity. Our Growth Acceleration Plan, which focusses on seizing market opportunities in our faster growing MVM and MPO segments, will be enhanced through our ability to invest in these services to seize and establish a leadership position. Nielsen is the logical home for our colleagues in MI (Market Intelligence) and we wish them every success for the future.”

USA, New York & UK, London & Bracknell

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