Denstu Aegis Acquires Controlling Stake in Merkle

Dentsu Aegis Networks, the Japan-owned, London-based global communications agency, extended an intensive round of acquisitions today by purchasing a majority stake in Columbia, Md digital agency Merkle. Merkle, a familiar name to readers of DMN and The Hub, had itself made a number of key acquisitions in the last two years.

According to reports, the value of the stake is around $1.5 billion, and Merkle management and employees will retain a significant minority stake in their brand.

Operating in over 100 countries worldwide, Dentsu Aegis offers brand, media and digital communications services, emphasizing—as has Merkle—the importance of building and maintaining relationships with customers and brands across multiple channels and devices. Specific services include creative, planning and buying (including for mobile), SEO, brand tracking and analytics. Merkle solidifies the Dentsu Aegis portfolio of solutions, with MerkleONE, the performance marketing platform; PAM—Publisher Addressable Marketplaces—its large-scale programmatic planning tool; the Merkle Data Management Cloud (on demand CRM, incorporating identity management, data sourcing and insights); and a range of other capabilities.

In a press release, Merkle CEO David Williams said: “As we considered a new investment partner, we sought a fit that would complement our vision, escalate our brand, and provide growth opportunities for our people, while also valuing Merkle’s unique strengths and culture. Becoming a part of Dentsu Aegis Network further strengthens our position and allows us to accelerate our goal of being a world-class Global performance marketing agency.” Denstu Aegis CEO Jerry Buhlmann added: “Our investment in Merkle is a unique opportunity to bring together two great businesses which have a strong fit in strategic, product, cultural and geographic terms. As the latest brand in our global network, Merkle will be able to accelerate its transformation into an international agency, by leveraging our global reach and platforms and providing new capabilities to our clients.”

In 2016 alone, Dentsu Aegis had already made nine acquisitions, most recently London-based creative agency Gyro and Danish direct and digital agency Magnetix AS. It’s thought that the relationship with Dentsu Aegis will help raise Merkle’s international profile. Merkle currently has 16 US offices and five overseas.

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