Dentsu Aegis acquires Merkle in deal estimated at $1.5 billion

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The Japanese advertising giant Dentsu has bought a majority stake in Maryland-based digital agency Merkle. Both companies have confirmed the acquisition without providing specific financial details. Reports in the Wall Street Journal and elsewhere estimate the deal at $1.5 billion.

Merkle will be the 10th member of the Dentsu Aegis Network, an international group of agencies providing digital marketing and communications services. Dentsu Aegis’ website says the company had about 32,000 employees in five continents before today’s acquisition. The group has made more than 80 acquisitions in the past three years.

“Merkle brings a powerful range of data led, fully addressable and real time capabilities,” said Dentsu Aegis CEO Jerry Buhlmann in announcing the deal. “The combination of our two businesses will create a compelling offer in that context for existing and potential clients.”

In its announcement today, Merkle CEO David Williams explained why the acquisition made sense.

As we considered a new investment partner, we sought a fit that would complement our vision, escalate our brand, and provide growth opportunities, while also valuing Merkle’s unique strengths and culture. Becoming a part of the Dentsu Aegis Network further strengthens our position and allows us to accelerate our goal of being a world-class performance marketing agency.

Williams, who’ll remain Merkle’s CEO, says the company “will continue to operate independently.”


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