Uncommon sells majority stake to Havas

There must be a change in the weather. After a post-lockdown period when adland deals were thin on the ground (with only Sir Martin Sorrell’s S4 Capital wielding the chequebook) yesterday Omnicom bought media independent Ptarmigan and today Havas has bought 51% of creative agency du moment Uncommon Creative Studio.

The price hasn’t been disclosed but but a post-earnout £120m has been suggested, pretty much the same as adam&eve landed when it sold to Omnicom’s DDB. It’s a six-year earnout, though, so it will be tough. Even so the initial payment to shareholders Natalie Graeme, Lucy Jameson and Nils Leonard (below with Havas CEO Yannick Bolloré and creative head Doona Murphy) will be demanding.

Havas says: “This landmark deal reflects the entrepreneurial approach of Havas and bucks the industry standard deals — valuing the future potential of Uncommon at £80-120m considering their projected growth plans.

“Uncommon will retain its brand, vision and freedom to make its own decisions across its client partners, internal team and creative output in this exciting, next stage of growth for the studio.”

Uncommon has recently focussed on international business and Havas will give it the scale it needs and some of what Havas needs too. Havas has a pretty good record in leaving its acquisitions (mostly) to their own devices, BETC in Paris, France’s biggest creative agency, being a notable case in point.

Uncommon, whose accounts number British Airways and B&Q, had 169 staff in 2022 and declared annual income of £22m.

Co-founder Leonard, who led the Uncommon breakaway from WPP’s Grey, says: “We created Uncommon to be on the receiving end of the most important and influential briefs of our time – this partnership brings that conviction closer to reality. This deal is different: it’s based on a freedom to make decisions, a power to break down barriers and the removal of dependency to make good things happen. We can create the industry we wish we worked in.”

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