Dentsu was by far the most acquisitive agency holding company in this year’s first quarter, in Asia-Pacific and globally, according to an M&A ranking by R3 for the period.
The company made five deals, snapping up Happy Marketer, BJL, Filter, Comunica+A and Redder Advertising. The deals were worth a total of US$247 million, R3 said. The acquisitions of Happy Marketer and Redder Advertising brought the value of Dentsu’s deals in APAC to US$56 million.
Singapore-based Happy Marketer and Seattle-based Filter are digital agencies now under Merkle; BJL is a UK creative agency with offices in Manchester and London; Comunica+A was Spain’s biggest independent agency; and Redder is a digital creative agency from Ho Chi Minh.
Accenture spent the most on acquisitions globally: US$559 million in a total of four deals, which included Droga5, Storm Digital, What If and Hjaltelin Stahl. Publicis Groupe made one acquisition, that of a remaining stake in Blue 449 for US$70 million, excluding the recent purchase of Epsilon for US$4.4 billion, which R3 did not include in its ranking. R3 will include the deal in its Q2 assessment.
Other notable global moves included McDonald’s purchase of Dynamic Yield, a personalisation platform, for US$123 million. R3 noted that the acquisition was the company’s biggest for 20 years and is an important investment in experience-based marketing.
The biggest acquisitions in Asia-Pacific aside from Dentsu’s were that of The Studio by AdGeek; Collabspot by Accel-KKR; Popcorn Global by Advent International; and DSTNCT by Gushcloud. In Thailand, YDM acquired FCB Bangkok for US$4 million, the smallest deal in the ranking.
Overall, companies spent US$3.76 billion, a 20% drop year-on-year. In Asia, spending was down 40%.
In a media release, Greg Paull, principal of R3, said that buyers are “becoming more selective as companies are under pressure to revisit their business structures and unlock value”.
R3 said a sharp fall in activity in Asia-Pacific was also the result of US-China trade disputes and “growing economic headwinds”. Paull said he expected the slowdown to continue as companies in the region adopt a more cautious position.