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According to Design Week’s 2000 Top 100 Consultancy Survey, Nucleus had a turnover of £2.6m last year. The takeover by Scandinavian e-group Adera values the 50-strong UK consultancy at up to £10m. Is this a realistic figure for a deal of this sort?

‘Company valuation, especially buying at the right price, is a mix of a mystic art, some planning and a bit of luck. Prices are high, sometimes bordering on the insane. The same questions have to be asked by all acquirers, dotcoms included: Will it boost our wealth by improving profitability and cashflow? Do we have a strategy to integrate and add further value? Will we make the right return on the investment and are we paying the right price? If you know all the answers you’re probably retired, rich, or both.’

Bruce Winfield, Managing Director, AMX

‘Digital businesses are still highly sought after but prices have plummeted in recent weeks. Nucleus will need funds to fuel growth and, with going public being a non-starter for such a small company, this deal looks extremely good for the consultancy.’

Ian Cochrane, Chairman, Ticegroup

‘Valuation is always a contentious topic. The buyer wants a bargain, and as a company only gets one chance to cash in, the seller wants the best deal. Valuations rely on financial performance, experience, the management team, reputation, culture, scarcity value, the company’s future potential, and so on. Talented teams are rare and if Adera sees that in Nucleus they have themselves a deal.’

Ajaz Ahmed, Chairman, AKQA

‘There is no formula and you don’t need me to say that it all depends on market forces. It’s interesting that another ‘e-group’ is getting design expertise for a not inconsiderable sum. It just goes to prove that creativity makes a difference. E-consultancies are pulling away from traditional consultancies to develop cultures where inspiration and intuition are valued. This isn’t the first deal, and it won’t be the last.’

Robin Richmond, Managing Director, Icon Medialab

‘The figure is based on what the buyer is prepared to pay for a company and the potential it sees. With most deals it is rare that all the details are published. The valuation is based on the group’s assets, strength of its client base and its technical know-how. This appears to be a good deal.’

Simon Rhind-Tutt, Managing Director, The Tutt Consultancy

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