Kempner: MWW's acquisition strategy could stretch beyond PR firms

MWW chief executive Michael Kempner explains the recent acquisition of UK-based Braben and what's coming up next for the firm.

MWW CEO Michael Kempner
MWW CEO Michael Kempner

MWW chief executive Michael Kempner talks with PRWeek about the recent acquisition of UK-based b-to-b specialist Braben and what’s next for the independent agency.

PRWeek: Why are you focused on the UK right now?
Kempner: The UK is one of our many prime targets. We are working to expand in multiple cities across the world, but Braben was an extraordinary company with great leaders and clients that fit perfectly with our current agency.

When we opened MWW in the UK and bought Parys Communications [last November], we announced at that time that we would look to make other acquisitions to create scale, deeper strength, and additional service offerings in the UK. This won’t be the last acquisition we make in the UK, nor will it be the last acquisition we make in Europe. It’s the beginning of a robust acquisition strategy in Europe and around the world.

PRW: Are there specific types of firms you want to acquire in the UK going forward?
Kempner: Our first priority is great people with great clients who share the same values and corporate ethos as MWW. With that being the foundation, further acquisitions could be in almost any area. However, my priority would be to deepen our consumer and corporate bench in the coming year.

PRW: Do you expect to expand in the US?
Kempner: We are in a period where we’re very focused on acquiring high quality companies, whether they be in the US or international. We’re looking in many markets at many different types of agencies, and not just PR firms. As you saw two weeks ago, we acquired Ideation, which is exclusively a technology player, giving us real-time data on behavior and analytics. We’re looking at both PR firms and synergistic services and offerings to add to our agency.

PRW: What other markets are you keeping an eye on?
Kempner: We’re opportunistic, so if a great agency was presented to us, we could change our strategy. For now, our goal would be to complete Europe and North America, including Canada, in 2015, and potentially begin the process of making our first acquisition or two in Asia – but that will all depend upon how quickly we can finalize a European and North American strategy.

PRW: What revenue numbers do you want to hit by the end of next year?
Kempner: We don’t normally release that. We do have growth targets, and the plan would be to be bigger and better.

PRW: Are there any other exciting things to come for MWW in the near future?
Kempner: One of the good things about being an independent mid-size agency is you can find great companies with great people and be nimble with the speed of acquisitions, as well as how, where, and when you do the acquisitions. You’ll see many more coming up in the not-too-distant future, but at the same time our organic growth is also strong. The UK itself experienced 50% year-over-year growth over the last 12 months, before the acquisition of Braben.

PRW: MWW’s LGBT offering has taken off recently, so are you looking at other specialties?
Kempner: We are deciding right now where we’re going to put our focus, but we are looking at several different specialty practices as part of our 2015 planning.

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