Accenture wrestles with WPP and Martin Sorrell for MediaMonks

06 July 2018 4 min. read

Netherlands based digital production studio MediaMonks is set to be acquired, having been courted by multiple suitors. According to sources, the digital marketing agency of consulting giant Accenture is just one of a host of firms willing to pay almost €300 million to scoop the sought-after digital consultancy.

MediaMonks provides solutions in the fields of digital media and advertising for websites, campaigns and advertising channels. The firm serves a host of large corporates including the likes of Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Lego, and boasts approximately 650 employees, based across offices in Hilversum (the firm’s Dutch headquarters), London, Los Angeles, Sao Paolo and Shanghai.

Founded 17 years previously, MediaMonks has operated independently ever since, although the firm is now understood to be on the verge of a change of ownership. If reports from the Financial Times prove accurate, a frenzied bidding war quickly commenced between four entities for the firm; private equity firms S4 Capital and Inflexion (which already has an existing footprint in the marketing and digital media landscape) advertising giant WPP, and consulting firm Accenture. If successful, the move from Accenture would see MediaMonks integrated into the rapidly expanding Interactive practice.

Accenture involved in €300 million bidding process for MediaMonks

Following a spate of deals in 2017 worth more than $1 billion, Accenture was claimed by some to have become the world’s largest advertising agency, a claim which was vociferously rubbished by then-WPP CEO Martin Sorrell. Speaking at the time, Sorrell said that claims of Accenture and rivals Deloitte’s sizes were “wildly overestimated.” Now, Sorrell, who was forced to step down from his role amid allegations of personal misconduct – WPP reportedly claimed that he exceeded the dividing line between business and private expenses, even suggesting that he possibly declared costs incurred by engaging a prostitute as a business expense.

Now, Sorrell has bounced back, and is leading another of the interested parties chasing MediaMonks. Since taking the helm at S4 Capital, Sorrell has pumped £40 million of personal finances into the private equity firm. Since launching, he has also raised £51 million from institutional investors, and a further £150 million from other lenders, so the group consequently boasts a substantial war-chest. However, joining S4 Capital is regarded by some as taking a leap into the unknown, regardless of the price, as MediaMonks would be the first agency in the network Sorrell wants to build – with reports suggesting he has an additional long-list of twenty to thirty companies in which he is interested.

With such a diversity of different players taking interest, MediaMonks is set to take an important strategic decision on its future soon. While WPP would offer access to the client base of the world’s largest advertising firm, Accenture Interactive’s captures of the likes of Karmarama (UK) and Rothco (Ireland) have positioned it as the industry’s biggest disruptor, giving MediaMonks potential access to a firm on the upward incline.

According to sources close to the matter, the asking price for MediaMonks is around the €300 million mark, and while the price-tag is regarded as "overpriced" by analysts compared to average valuations in the market, acquisitions in the sector are generally seeing inflation due to a heightened demand from consulting firms looking to expand into lucrative advertising work, while there are not many companies in the digital production segment which can match the quality and scale of MediaMonks.