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Omnicom in talks to buy LBi for $575 mn

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MUMBAI: Close on the heels of rival media communication house WPP buying out digital agency AKQA for $540 million, rival advertising giant Omnicom Media Group is said to be in talks to buy LBi, the independent full-service digital marketing agency, for an estimated $575 million (?368 million).

LBi said it is in ‘ongoing discussions’ with third parties about a possible sale, but did not state whether Omnicom was among them.

LBi International is Europe‘s largest independent marketing and technology agency having 30 operations in 16 countries and employing 2,120. The company’s turnover in 2011 was $250 million (?160 million) and net profit stood at ?22 million.

The digital agency’s birth can be traced back to 2001 when Swedish internet consultancy Icon Medialab merged with rival Dutch web company Lost Boys to form Lb Icon. At the time, the operations were handled out of Amsterdam. Later in 2006, Lb Icon merged with Framfab and was renamed LBi. The newly formed entity then went on to acquire agencies Syrup and Special Ops in 2008 and BigMouthMedia in 2010. In November last year, the conglomerate bought youth marketing and social media agency, Mr Youth, in a deal valued at around $45m.

With digital being touted as the medium of the future, the leading communication giants have been on an acquisition spree since the year began. Recently, WPP’s JWT bought 51 per cent equity stake in India agency Hungama Digital.

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