Publicis Groupe set to acquire Sapient in $4.2bn cash deal

publicis groupe sapient logoAdvertising holding company Publicis Groupe has made an offer of $25 per share to acquire the independent Sapient digital advertising agency, as it bids to strengthen its digital prowess following the failed merger with Omnicom earlier this year.

The $4.2bn acquisition of Boston-based Sapient, which has offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane under the SapientNitro badge, would see the French group, which has assets including creative agency Leo Burnett and media agencies Starcom Mediavest and Zenith Optimedia, take its digital earnings to above the 50 per cent target it had set itself in a recent review.

In a statement released to the market this evening Maurice Lévy, chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe, said: “Sapient is a ‘crown jewel,’ a one of a kind company born in the technology space with strengths in marketing, communications, consulting and omni-channel commerce, all of which are equally important to best help clients achieve their digital transformation.

“It will also give Publicis Groupe access to new markets and creating new revenue streams. This acquisition fulfills many of Publicis Groupe’s objectives: we will enhance our leadership position in digital, achieve our goal of deriving 50 per cent of our revenues from digital and technology three years ahead of our 2018 plan, and leverage technology, consulting capabilities to expand in new verticals, and offering new and exciting opportunities to our talents.”

Sapient, founded in 1990, will continue to be led by Alan Herrick, who has been CEO since 2005. He will join the global Publicis board.

In Australia SapientNitro’s clients include RAC Queensland, Carlton and United Breweries, Mondelez and Unilever and has a staff of around 70.

Alan J. Herrick, Sapient CEO added: “This transaction provides substantial value to our shareholders, offers an ideal cultural match for our people and provides an opportunity to share a wealth of new capabilities with our clients. The Sapient team has been on a 24-year journey building a company with the objective of creating significant impact for our clients and the industries in which they operate.

“With Publicis Groupe, we have found a partner that accelerates the level of transformation we can drive into the marketplace.”

The deal, which has been underwritten by Citi, will now be subject to anti-trust proceedings in the US and Germany, with Sapient de-listed from the Nasdaq stock exchange when it completes, expected to be the first quarter of 2015.


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