AKQA bought by WPP

WPP has announced the acquisition of digital consultancy AKQA in a deal which reportedly values the consultancy at almost £350 million.

Tom and Ajaz
Tom Bedecarré and Ajaz Ahmed

AKQA which was set up in 2001 by Ajaz Ahmed, currently employs 1160 people, including software engineers, technologists, creatives and strategists.

Under the new deal it will operate autonomously, keeping its name but working within WPP, and will still be led by Ahmed and current chairman Tom Bedecarré.

Global offices are located in in the US (San Francisco, New York, Washington DC), Europe (London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin) and Asia  (Shanghai).

The consultancy had gross assets of £179 million, as of 31 December 2011. Forecast revenues are £146 million in 2012, having achieved £120 million in 2011.

Bedecarré will be given a secondary role within the WPP network, as president of WPP Ventures, a new Silicon Valley-based company looking for digital investment opportunities for the WPP group.

WPP chief executive Martin Sorrell says he has ‘admired AKQA’s creativity and technological skills for a long time’, and says that he will work with the consultancy to ‘broaden their offer and our own, both geographically and functionally’.

Market analyst Investec says the deal ‘looks expensive, however, digital is unlikely to come cheap’.

It says AKQA is likely to use the WPP deal to help expand into emerging markets, but that for WPP the acquisition is ‘a reasonable strategic deal… but at a high price and not a game-changer’.

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