Global advertising giant WPP is buying stake in San Francisco
based digital agency AKQA, the last big digital shops not
yet public or owned by a holding company.
the purchase price was not revealed, the digital agency is
valued at $450 million and trade estimates peg the price around
AKQA is backed by private-equity firm General Atlantic and
at the end of 2011 had gross assets of $282 million with a
forecast of profits to the tune of $230 million in 2012 as
opposed to $189 million in 2011.
The announcement was made during the annual Cannes Lions held
in Paris, France. AKQA will continue to operate as an independent
and standalone brand within WPP and be led by founder and
CEO Ajaz Ahmed and chairman Tom Bedecarré.
will also become president of WPP Ventures, a new Silicon-Valley
based digital investment company.
Two years back, AKQA was approached by Japanese media house
Dentsu, but the latter soon exited the talks. According top
media reports, the asking price at the time was between $550
million and $600 million which was also speculated to be the
reason for Dentsus withdrawal.
WPP too tried twice before things finally fell in place.
AKQA currently employs 1,160 people all over the globe and
has offices in U.S., Europe and Shanghai. It provides expertise
in integrated digital communications campaigns, social media,
mobile, gaming work, and content creation and has clients
like Delta, Diageo, EDF, GAP, Google, Microsoft Xbox, Nike,
Target, Unilever and Virgin Money.