Private equity buyers accounted for 22 per cent of the 187 major marcoms M&A deals in the first quarter of 2018 according to Results International but consultancy Capgemini struck the biggest, $500m for US-based digital consultancy LiquidHub, which also has a big operation in India.
Dentsu was the most active buyer with seven deals but WPP, possibly showing signs of a change of tack even before CEO Sir Martin Sorrell’s surprise departure, struck just three.
Results International partner Julie Langley says: “The holding companies as a whole did fewer deals in Q1 than in any quarter in 2017. Ahead of Sir Martin Sorrell’s sudden departure WPP announced only three deals in Q1 versus 30 in the whole of 2017. This unexpected news is likely to create even more internal focus on succession and restructuring. That said, we expect to see WPP continue to announce deals, but most likely in line with the lower volumes seen recently.
“In contrast, Dentsu appears to be on track to do a similar number of deals as in 2017, and Publicis has recently announced a war-chest of €300-500m per year to be invested in areas such as data and digital transformation.”