December 2017: Consulting M&A and Equity Market Update

By Ramone Param, Associate Director, Equiteq

Xafinity acquires Punter Southall businesses

Xafinity is acquiring the actuarial, pensions administration and investment consulting businesses of Punter Southall, in a deal valued at £153m. Xafinity provides pensions actuarial advice and administration services to 550 occupational pension funds in the UK. As part of the transaction, it will acquire Punter Southall Limited, Punter Southall Investment Consulting and Punter Southall Administration Limited for a combination of cash and shares. The deal is expected to create the largest pure-play pensions consultancy in the UK, with c.900 employees across the country, that generates over £100m of revenue. After the transaction, Punter Southall’s remaining operations will be focused on workplace savings, health and protection consulting and wealth management.

The deal is set to be the first major acquisition in the investment advisory industry since the Financial Conduct Authority referred the industry to the UK’s competition regulator. The referral is expected to result in new rules that distributes clients of the big three (Aon, Mercer and Willis Towers Watson), while driving consolidation amongst smaller advisers.

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Equiteq Deal Insight: Digital Media Consulting

Dentsu to acquire majority stake in Merkle, gaining market-leading capabilities in customer-focused data analytics & performance marketing

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In our 2016 Global Consulting M&A Report, we observed that last year’s media buyers were dominated by a few large players, with one of the key drivers for acquisitions being their motivation to keep ahead of the competition within the context of a rapidly changing industry. This industry transformation is being led by the digital disruption of business models, particularly as it relates to how companies interact with their customers.
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This week, Dentsu Aegis Network, the international arm of one of last year’s top three media buyers, announced their acquisition of a majority stake in Merkle. Merkle is considered to be the largest independent U.S.-based agency focused on customer relationship management and search, managing a vast dataset of first-party customer records. Merkle is also one of Google’s largest agency partners and was one of the first agencies to offer custom audience data relating to Facebook.

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