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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Keywords Studios acquires Fire Without Smoke

keywordsKeywords Studios, the technical services provider to the video games industry, has acquired Fire Without Smoke Ltd for up to £5.2m. 

Headquartered in London and with a studio in Montreal, Fire Without Smoke provides a suite of creative and marketing services to game publishers and developers, creating assets such as game trailers, marketing art and materials for esports events, and providing marketing consultancy and general design services to the video game industry. 

Founded in 2013, Fire Without Smoke works with major game publishers such as Sony, Square Enix, Riot Games, Deep Silver, Sega, Capcom and Ubisoft. The company has around 40 staff  working in London and Montréal

Keywords Studios is acquiring the business from the founders Will O’Connor, Michael David Thomson plus other shareholders. Will O’Connor will continue as Managing Director. David Thomson and the the rest of the team, will also remain with the business. 

For the year ending 31 May 2018, Fire Without Smoke is expected to have revenues of £2.8 million and adjusted profits before tax of £0.7 million.  Keywords Studios is paying £3.85 million in cash, £0.5m of which is deferred until the first anniversary of the acquisition and subject to performance targets, and the issue of 77,006 new ordinary shares in Keywords Studios, which will be issued to the Sellers on the first anniversary of the acquisition and will then be subject to orderly market provisions for a further 12 months.

Andrew Day, CEO of Keywords Studios commented: “Fire Without Smoke’s specialised offering represents an excellent addition to the Group’s existing capabilities and adds some exciting new services to our global service platform. Their high end video game trailers expertise will be of great interest to Keywords’ large client base, as will their broad suite of creative services, which range from marketing strategy to providing marketing content for events including esports tournaments, which can play a significant role in influencing the success of event and game launches.

Ireland, Dublin & UK, London & Canada, Montréal

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Hatched Media acquires fellow Australian independent FRANk Media

Hatched MediaMelbourne-based independent agency Hatched Media has announced the merger and acquisition of fellow independent FRANk Media. No details of the transaction were disclosed.

FRANk Media was established in 2000 and offers communications planning, content marketing, programmatic, strategy, media buying, CRM, EDM, research, customer insight, PR, SEM, SEO, social media strategy and management, social media advertising, social media training and workshops, reporting, analytics and media planning, negotiation and buying. Owned and run by industry veteran Martyn Thomas, FRANk has transitioned all staff and clients across to Hatched to bolster the overall agency offering under the one roof.

Hatched founder and owner Jack Byrne said he has long admired Thomas and the FRANk team’s approach to its clients’ business, “Not only will their experience and strong strategic offering across communications be a welcome addition to the current offering, but culturally we are naturally aligned due to the high value we place on our people and level of care to our clients, which has ensured a seamless transition as a merged entity thus far,” he said.

Hatched will be adding FRANk’s current client list, which includes American Tourister, High Sierra, IXL Home, Lifestyle Communities, Movember, Luna Park (Melbourne), Lipault Paris, Sub Zero & Wolf, St John Ambulance (Victoria and NSW) and Sumitomo Rubber to their current list of clients, which include Automotive Brands Group, Dairy Australia, Sensis (Yellow Pages and White Pages), Fernwood Fitness, Dennis Family Homes, Strike Bowling, Henley Homes, Village Cinemas, Hairhouse Warehouse, Boost Juice, Capi Sparkling, and CBUS Property.

Australia, Melbourne

The Social Chain Group acquires The Football Republic from FremantleMedia

Social Chain GroupSocial media marketing agency and media publishing house The Social Chain Group has acquired a network of sport social media channels, The Football Republic, from FremantleMedia. The deal will see TFR’s brands such as The Full Time Devils become a part of Media Chain – The Social Chain Group’s social media publishing house. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

The acquisition will increase Media Chain’s sport network reach by more than 2.5 million, taking the company’s global sport network to over 17 million followers, adding to its SPORF network. Launched in 2015 by Shotglass Media, the digital arm of FremantleMedia UK, TFR has built a large fan base with three million followers across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.

Kat Hebden, managing director at Shotglass Media, said, “We launched The Football Republic because we saw a gap in the market for football entertainment content that served a young, digitally savvy audience. We believe Media Chain will provide a great home for these communities to continue to flourish.”

UK, Manchester & London

Meredith Corporation completes acquisition of Time Inc.

MeredithMeredith Corporation has completed its acquisition of Time Inc., with February 2018 the first day of operations for the combined company. Time Inc. shareholders received $18.50 per share in an all-cash transaction valued at $2.8 billion originally announced on 26 November 2017. Meredith also announced fiscal 2018 second quarter and first half results.

Meredith Corporation Chairman and CEO Stephen M. Lacy said, “With this acquisition, we are creating a premier media and marketing company serving 200 million American consumers that’s positioned for growth across industry-leading digital, television, print, video, mobile, and social platforms. The combined portfolio joins the rich content-creation capabilities of many of the media industry’s strongest national brands with a powerful local television business that is generating record earnings.”

USA, New York, NY & Des Moines, Iowa

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Endeavor acquires marketing agency 160over90

WMEEndeavor, the new name for the entertainment conglomerate formed after WME’s acquisition of IMG, has agreed to acquire branding and marketing agency 160over90 from private equity firm Searchlight Capital Partners. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

160over90 handles branding and marketing for a number of colleges, sports teams and brands, including Ferrari, the Indianapolis Colts, the Philadelphia Eagles, UCLA and Under Armour. The agency, which has about 180 employees, will be housed within Endeavor Global Marketing, the division that in recent years has acquired experiential agencies IMG LIVE and Fusion Marketing, as well as public relations firm Catalyst. Endeavor also has a stake in ad agency darling Droga5.

Mark Shapiro, co-president of WME and IMG, which still exist as independent businesses within Endeavor, said, “As the business continues to move away from the 30-second spot and into a full-fledged focus on experiences, we want to be fully armed and stand out with a unique platform. The 160over90 agency can enhance the platforms and channels and content that we are creating and producing for our clients, from Hollywood to sports.”

USA, New York, NY & Philadelphia, PA

Catena Media acquires Squawka.com and related assets from Squawka Ltd for £1M

Catena MediaThe online performance marketing company Catena Media has acquired Squawka.com and related assets from Squawka Ltd. Squawka is a high-volume traffic global football news site with a Daily Fantasy Sports section in beta version. The main site currently attracts around 4 million users per month, and has around 800,000 followers on Twitter.

The purchase price amounts to a one-time upfront cash payment of GBP 1 million (approximately EUR 1.1 million). The acquisition is expected to generate annual sales of approximately EUR 2 million with an estimated 60% margin.

Henrik Persson Ekdahl, Acting CEO of Catena Media, said, “We see potential for Squawka as a high-volume traffic site with a global audience, to which we look forward to implementing an affiliation business model. The company has invested in automatic data feeds for their user-friendly graphical interfaces, which is something we aim to integrate into other Catena Media products.”

Malta, Ta’ Xbiex & UK, London