media & marketing companies attract buyers


The annual Kingston Smith Marketing & Media Deal Tracker showed UK marketing and media companies continued to attract buyers in 2018, despite an uncertain economic climate.

The study tracked 273 deals involving marketing and media companies last year - only four down on the number in 2017.

Cross-border activity accounted for about half the deals recorded, with the study analysing that although uncertainty dampens economic prospects, a weak pound can also make UK businesses more attractive to overseas buyers.

Looking ahead, growth forecasts are also lower for Britain's economy because of doubts over the timing and form of the UK's exit from the European Union.

Kingston Smith's analysis suggests that the preliminary data from Q4 in 2018 recorded the lowest number of deals for the 12 month period, consistent with the pattern of previous years.

Among the deals which attracted attention during the year were the acquisitions by Sir Martin Sorrell's S4 Capital of MediaMonks, the Dutch digital marketing agency, and of Mighty Hive, a US programmatic advertising agency. Dentsu, the Japanese-owned marketing services group, also made four acquisitions and other active acquirers included M&C Saatchi and Next 15, the digital communications group.

Overall, marketing services groups were the most popular deal targets - being involved in 56 per cent of the deals monitored by the Tracker, with mediatech businesses accounting for around a quarter.

The report also identifies the trade tensions between the US and China as potential constraints on the pace of future deal-making. 

However, Paul Winterflood, Corporate Finance Director, Kingston Smith, said: "The best and innovative companies will continue to thrive regardless of the macroeconomic climate, and we expect the best-in-class agencies to continue to be acquired."