Former Synovate CEO Peter Huijboom (left) is returning to Aegis as its first ‘global director of business integration,’ charged with identifying ‘revenue synergies’ between Aegis and new owner Dentsu, which bought the media buying network for £3.2bn earlier this year.
The deal is still awaiting formal approval from Chinese regulators who don’t seem to like the idea of a Japanese company (Dentsu) becoming even bigger in China.
Market researcher Synovate was part of Aegis until it was sold to French firm Ipsos for £525m in October 2011. Huijboom, who seems to collect odd titles, was CEO geographies at Ipsos-owned Synovate, whatever that means.
So what does a global director of business integration do? Well it looks like one of his job will be to identify cuts to take out overlaps between the two companies and that usually means people. Dentsu paid £3.2bn in cash for Aegis and, although Aegis has continued to perform more strongly than its competitors, that was a very full price which may have included the expectation that the global ad economy was about to surge into overdrive. Which it most definitely has not, with both WPP and Publicis Groupe reporting sharp slowdowns in this autumn.
Rounds of cost-cutting usually follow such mergers anyway. BBH took the knife to its struggling New York office following Publicis Groupe’s purchase of the whole company back in July. It’s at least arguable that BBH, left to its own devices, would not have taken such drastic action.
There is also the question of (eventual) management succession at Aegis. CEO Jerry Buhlmann (left) agreed to stay on for only a year following the Dentsu deal. Synovate performed reasonably well under Huijboom at Aegis even though its growth rate lagged the media business.
Huijboom, provided he delivers the numbers of course, looks well-placed to be an internal contender the top job if Buhlmann tires of flights to Tokyo and decides to spend more time with his money.