Bain Capital is lining up a $1.3bn deal to buy quoted Asatsu-DK, Japan’s third biggest agency after the mighty Dentsu and Hakuhodo. WPP owns a stake in ADK.
Bain Capital though is a private equity operation – it part owns the iHeart radio and outdoor business – and not connected with Bain & Co, the consultancy. It recently agreed a $15bn offer to buy Toshiba’s chip business.
Even so Bain’s interest in ADK shows that there a number of buyers prowling the marcoms sector, strange on the face of it when the big agency holding companies’ margins are under increasing pressure and growth hard to come by.
But private equity companies and others always have one eye on the turn to be made from breaking up what might be seen as undervalued conglomerates. It hasn’t happened to one of the biggies yet but it’s a pretty safe bet that such companies are analysing whether the assets of WPP or Omnicom might be worth more separately than together. Recent share price falls will only have increased the interest.