IPG acquires Acxiom marketing services business for US$2.3bn

Advertising and media agency giant buys up Acxiom's database, data and analytics businesses to run as a standalone division within IPG MediaBrands

Advertising agency behemoth, Interpublic Group (IPG) has confirmed it’s acquiring database marketing and management solutions business, Acxiom, in a deal worth US$2.3 billion.

Under the deal, the Acxiom Marketing Solutions (AMS) business and brand name will become part of IPG’s global portfolio as a standalone division. The deal does not include the LiveRamp identity resolutions part of the Acxiom Corporation, but does cover Acxiom’s data strategy and management, audience creation and analytics capabilities.

The cash transaction is valued at $2.3 billion or a net $2bn after acquisition tax benefits, and has already been approved unanimously by the boards of directors of both companies. It’s expected to deliver additional and diverse revenue in the first year and represent 8 per cent of combined company revenue, as well as give IPG access to AMS’s long-term contractual relationships with more than 2000 clients worldwide.

According to IPG, the purchase price is 11.5 times AMS’s 2018 estimated EBITDA, a hefty price tag for the business. Acxiom has a market capitalisation of $2.63bn and the AMS component of the business represented about three-quarters of its total revenue (US$917 million) in the last fiscal year.

In a press statement, IPG said the combination brings together media and marketing agency expertise with data and personalised messaging. Specifically, with AMS, IPG said it will deliver a foundation data asset to clients based on a data set that covers two-thirds of the world’s population. Acxiom claims it now recognises 2.2 billion consumers and manages 20 billion customer records.

Acxiom also comes with 2100 associates with data and analytics professionals, an important commodity in an ecosystem where such skills are in extremely high demand.

“In a world where everything is becoming data-driven, Acxiom Marketing Solutions offers the deepest set of capabilities for helping companies navigate the complexity of creating personalised brand experiences across every consumer touchpoint,” IPG chairman and CEO, Michael Roth, said.

“Combing AMS with a range of IPG assets will help us shape the future of our industry. Acxiom’s leadership on data ethics is second to none, its business is solid and growing, and it has long played a foundational role in the marketing ecosystem.”

Roth said the two companies spent the past year working to power IPG’s AMP data platform and had recognised a good cultural fit.

“We’ve seen that the combination creates value for our clients, as it will for our shareholders,” he said.

Acxiom Corporation CEO, Scott Howe, said the deal came off the back of careful consideration of a variety of options and potential partners. It’s subject to conditions but expected to close by the end of the calendar year.

“It becomes clear that a sale of AMS to IPG, with its scale and breadth of complementary services, represented the best possible path forward for our clients and associates,” he said.

Under the new deal, AMS co-presidents, Dennis Self and Rick Erwin, will remain in their existing leadership roles, reporting into IPG Mediabrands.

IPG is a portfolio of advertising agencies and marketing services companies including McCann, MullenLowe Group, Weber Shandwick, UM Jack Morton and FutureBrand.

Like most, the agency group has been making regular acquisitions in recent years, although most recently the emphasis has been complementary digital and mobile agencies in the UK and Europe, such as Virta in 2017, and Zazzle Media, Stickyeyes and Mubaloo in 2016.


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