Agency M&As up 126% globally, with U.S. leading the way

U.S. deals through the end of March increased 366% compared with last year.

In the first three months of the year, 100 agency-related mergers and acquisitions have taken place around the world, totaling $4.6 billion in sales, according to a M&A report from R3.

The fast-paced start to the year represents a 126% increase from last year, which saw 94 deals worth $2 billion from January through March 2017. U.S. deals, according to the report, saw the biggest increase of 366%, year-over-year, with 58 deals valued at $3.1 billion.

Out of all the M&As, only 14% were done by agency holding companies, showing a rise in interest among other buyers. Consultants CapGemini and Accenture led the way in major investments this year, with deals including LiquidHub and Meredith Xcelerated Marketing, respectively, according to the report.

Private equity firms were also active buyers in the last three months, specifically with Ocelot Partners, Milpond, and KKR looking at outdoor, sports marketing, and digital firms.

"The clear message is that holdings groups are going to have to fight harder to get access to the best possible agency candidates," said R3 principal Greg Paull. "It’s never been a more competitive marketplace."

On the more unusual acquisition front, the report highlighted that WeWork invested in Search Agency Conductor, Dentsu Ventures backed millennial-focused broadcaster Cheddar, and L’Oreal put money toward A.R. firm Modiface.

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