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Omnicom buys digital commerce business Flywheel for $900m

Ascential now primarily Cannes Lions and other events

Omnicom isn’t known for splashing the cash (although the founders of adam&eve might demur) but it has now: $900m for Cannes Lions owner Ascential’s Flywheel digital commerce business.

The Flywheel Commerce Cloud platform manages adspend across a number of digital marketplaces including Amazon, Walmart and Alibaba. It will be combined with Omnicom’s existing Omni data business.

Ascential CEO Duncan Painter will join Omnicom and run Flywheel. Cannes Lions boss Philip Thomas becomes CEO of Ascential, now mainly events. Ascential is also selling its WGSN online fashion platform to Apax Partners for up to $700m, meaning a double bonus for Ascential shareholders.

Omnicom CEO John Wren says: “Ecommerce sales worldwide are set to increase by 50%, reaching about $7tn by 2025. The acquisition of Flywheel significantly broadens our reach and influence in the rapidly expanding digital commerce and retail media sectors, two of the fastest-growing parts of the industry.

“Together, we will seamlessly integrate our offerings across retail and brand media, digital and in-store commerce, and CRM, ultimately delivering superior results for our clients.”

Ascential may now be entertaining offers for the hugely profitable Cannes Lions and its other events.

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