Publicis boosts digital with Sapient buyout

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Paris-based Publicis Groupe has bought Boston-based marketing network Sapient for US$3.7 billion cash (NZ$4.76), months after the breakdown in merger talks with Omnicom. Publicis says the acquisition will speed up its transition into a digital technology company.

Publicis ceo Maurice Lévy described Sapient as a “crown jewel” acquisition that would see digital income account for more than 50% of total revenues three years ahead of the group’s 2018 plan.

“Sapient is a one-of-a-kind company born in the technology space, with strengths in marketing, communications, consulting and omni-channel commerce,” he said.

Sapient ceo Alan Herrick will now join Publicis’s senior management team as ceo of Publicis.Sapient.

“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,” Herrick said Herrick. “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.”

The French group has seen a slowdown in growth following the breakdown in the US $35bn merger talks with rival Omnicom, with third quarter organic revenue up just 1%.

Sapient has three divisions: SapientNitro, a creative ad agency network; Sapient Government Services in the public sector; and Sapient Global Markets in the financial sector. Among Sapient’s high-profile hometown clients are the Boston Red Sox.

Publicis has made a string of digitally-focused acquisitions in recent years, including Digitas, Razorfish, Rosetta and LBi.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Rothschild advised Publicis Groupe. Goldman Sachs and Blackstone advised Sapient.

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