Publicis has bought Poke, a London-based agency, as the French advertising giant continues its expansion after a proposed merger with Omicom. Terms of the Poke deal were not disclosed, but Campaign magazine put the price at less than $20 million, nothing that Mother London had a 50% stake in the company, and the four founding [...]

Publicis has bought Poke, a London-based agency, as the French advertising giant continues its expansion after a proposed merger with Omicom.


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Terms of the Poke deal were not disclosed, but Campaign magazine put the price at less than $20 million, nothing that Mother London had a 50% stake in the company, and the four founding partners would stay on with an earn-out after three years.
Chief executive Nick Farnhill and three co-founders each own a 12.5% stake in the agency, according to Companies House.
"Poke is a company that we have admired for some time," said Jean-Yves Naouri, Publicis Groupe's chief operating officer, in a statement. "This acquisition will further strengthen our Publicis UK offering by adding a new level of digital expertise, creativity and innovation to the Publicis UK group of agencies."
Poke was founded in 2001 and now has 60 staffers in London and 25 in New York. It's speciality has been social media, e-commerce, digital architecture and mobile advertising development for clients such as Orange, Mulberry, the BBC, Ted Baker and Skype.
The deal will see Poke integrated into Publicis' UK operations. The agency will sit alongside Publicis London, Publicis Chemistry and Publicis Blueprint, to help inject more digital expertise into those offerings for clients.
"We've had very successful and rewarding working relationships withPublicis Conseil in France and Publicis Chemistry in the UK for some time working across Orange and Everything Everywhere and the new partnership is simply a natural and positive evolution of these relationships," said Nick Farnhill, POKE founding partner and CEO in a statement. "Particularly appealing is the opportunity to develop digital communication solutions beyond advertising with our new UK partners, the capacity to operate more effectively internationally and the potential of exciting career opportunities for our team. Digital isn't one thing. It's everything. So you can't get far without productive partnerships."
Analysis
Commenting on the deal, Keith Hunt, managing partner, Results International – www.resultsig.com – leading global M&A advisers in the marketing communications and adtech space, said: “The Publicis acquisition of Poke is an excellent reminder that despite the recent ‘merger of equals’ with Omnicom it’s business as usual on the acquisition front. Clearly there will be much effort behind the scenes to ensure that the integration of the two networks runs smoothly but it’s encouraging to see a continued energy and appetite to focus on suitable acquisition targets. The networks’ shareholders should be well satisfied.
“Following the high profile LBi and AKQA deals of 2012, there is a shrinking pool of sizeable independent digital agencies. This transaction demonstrates that there is still considerable appetite for such agencies that remain. Let us hope that the merger will deliver on its intended value and that Poke can be successfully integrated with other digital agencies in the group including LBi and Chemistry.
“Cultural clashes and turf wars can prevent post-integration plans from being properly executed. Different systems and processes, dilution of each company's identity and brand, overestimation of synergies and lack of understanding of each other’s businesses can easily destroy the best laid intentions. The ultimate impact is a loss of shareholder value and a drop in stock price.
"There’s no denying that Publicis faces a huge integration challenge on all fronts. It can only be assumed that this latest acquisition shows that it is supremely confident in rising to this challenge."