September 2, 2020

MSQ completes acquisition of Be Heard Partnership to create one of the leading tech enabled marketing groups

MSQ completes acquisition of Be Heard Partnership to create one of the leading tech enabled marketing groups
  • DEAL IMPLIES £20.6M ENTERPRISE VALUE FOR BE HEARD
  • NET CARBON NEGATIVE AIM BY NEXT YEAR

LONDON:  MSQ, one of the UK’s fastest growing marketing groups, has completed the acquisition of the Be Heard Partnership and announced its intention for the enlarged group to be net carbon negative from early next year.

Be Heard was delisted from the London Stock Exchange (AIM) this morning and now joins MSQ in a deal which puts an enterprise value on Be Heard of £20.6m. The deal was backed by follow-on financing from the Manchester arm of leading mid-market private equity firm LDC.  Be Heard’s senior managers have invested in the enlarged group as is currently the case in MSQ.

The combined group of 785 staff in the UK, Asia and the USA brings together the complementary skills of Be Heard’s agencies MMT Digital (tech and digital transformation), Freemavens (data analytics/insight) and Agenda21 (digital media) with MSQ’s Holmes & Marchant (branding and design), Smarts (PR and content), Stack (customer acquisition and engagement), Stein IAS (B2B marketing), The Gate/ Walk-In Media (creative and media) and twentysix (digital).

Bringing Be Heard into the fold adds significant weight to MSQ in digital tech and data analytics, areas that MSQ’s CEO believes have become even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic and will accelerate the group’s growth.

Pete Reid, MSQ’s CEO commented:

“Through the acquisition, we will add significant depth, scale and expertise in digital tech and data analytics; areas that make us more relevant to a greater number of clients in a world where these talents are increasingly sought.  Connecting those tech skills with MSQ’s creative skills will make us one of the leading tech enabled groups.

“It’s an exciting time in MSQ’s development, not least transacting a deal and integrating two groups in the virtual, and often challenging environment, that we are currently operating in.  A number of interesting discussions are already taking place between the agencies and new business opportunities are arising as a result both in the UK and across our international offices.”

Ben Rudman, past COO of Be Heard and now Executive Director of MSQ, added:

“Culturally and strategically the businesses are a great fit, with strong agencies that come together in a multi-disciplinary offering.  I’m confident that our agencies will thrive under private ownership in an enlarged group with complementary skills.

“We’ve a number of group-wide initiatives underway already, one of which is achieving net carbon neutral status by early next year.  We believe it is the right thing to do and work has started across the agencies to make it a reality.”

John Clarke, Investment Director at LDC in Manchester, said:

“This acquisition not only significantly enhances MSQ’s already impressive position but expands its range of services to provide a truly integrated, multi-disciplinary offering for its clients. It marks a key step in a long-term growth strategy that will help attract the very best industry talent and cement MSQ’s market-leading position.”

The acquisition follows hot on the heels of significant hires for MSQ that includes Robert Goodwin from Wunderman Thompson as Chief Data Officer.  Last year Kate Howe joined as Executive Director from Dentsu Aegis Network UK and Charles Courtier, former CEO of WPP’s global media agency MEC, took on the role as Chairman.

MSQ’s client list now includes Vodafone, Unilever, GSK, Peugeot, Nestlé and HM Government.

The intention is that all London-based agencies will share a new office from the middle of next year.

About MSQ Partners

MSQ is an international marketing group with around 525 colleagues. Headquartered in the UK, MSQ has a number of international offices and operates six agency brands, spanning The Gate (creative and media), Smarts (PR and content), Stack (customer acquisition and engagement), twentysix (digital), Homes & Marchant (branding and design) and Stein IAS (B2B marketing).  Its key clients include Unilever, Peugeot, Nestle and HM Government. It has an established culture of senior management shared ownership which helps promote effective collaboration.

About Be Heard Partnership

The Be Heard Partnership includes Agenda21 (digital media planning and buying), MMT (technical consultancy specialising in the delivery of effective digital solutions), Kameleon (business-to-business marketing and social influencer), Freemavens (technology and data-driven consultancy) and The Corner (brand and creative).   The Corner was sold back to its management team as part of the acquisition agreement with MSQ.

About LDC

LDC is an established UK mid-market private equity specialist with nearly 40 years’ experience of working with management teams. LDC is an active private equity investor in the UK market, investing through multiple cycles.

 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT

Lesley Alexander – 07968 525783, lesley.alexander@smarts.agency

Matt Williams – 07872 867253, matt.williams@msqpartners.com