New Accenture CEO eyes M&A as Interactive revenue hits $10b

The consulting giant's digital marketing services arm is now as big as IPG.

Accenture CEO Julie Sweet
Accenture CEO Julie Sweet

Accenture’s digital marketing services arm, Accenture Interactive, has passed $10 billion in annual revenue, making it as large as Interpublic Group, the world’s fourth-biggest marketing holding company.

Accenture Interactive, which marked its 10th anniversary this month, added at least $1.5 billion in sales compared with a year earlier.

Julie Sweet, the newly promoted CEO of Accenture, told investors that Accenture Interactive’s revenues of "over $10 billion" in the year to August were "a significant milestone."

Accenture does not disclose Accenture Interactive’s exact financial numbers in its accounts, but said in June that it was growing at more than 20% and the "vast, vast, vast majority of that growth" is organic.

It had annual revenue of $8.5 billion last year and a 20% increase would likely mean revenues jumped to $10.2 billion or more this year.

Sweet said Accenture Interactive’s role in "creating better customer experiences" was one of three main areas of client growth for Accenture. "Building out their digital core" and "optimizing their operations" are the other areas.

"Our clients are focusing on enterprise-wide transformation," she said, explaining why clients are asking for a broad range of capabilities.

Sweet, who has a background in M&A, told investors that expanding Accenture Interactive remained "an important focus point" for the parent company "going forward."

Another focus of M&A is future technology such as artificial intelligence and robotics, which Accenture dubs Industry X.0.

Accenture Interactive made its biggest acquisition, Droga5, in April for an estimated $475 million to add to a portfolio that includes Fjord, Karmarama, Rothco, Sinner Schrader and The Monkeys.

Asked if Accenture, which is worth $130 billion, could consider a larger deal, Sweet said, "There’s certainly no plan to do that but, obviously, we have the capability if that ever made sense."

Interpublic had annual revenues of $9.7 billion last year. Revenues would have been $10.2 billion if its acquisition of Acxiom had completed by the start of 2018, rather than in October 2018, accounts show.

Accenture Interactive is larger than Dentsu and Havas, two of the established "big six" agency groups, but it is still behind WPP, Omnicom Group and Publicis Groupe.

Mark Read, chief executive of WPP, said in August that he had not seen "a material increase" in competition from management consultants such as Accenture in agency pitches this year.

This story first appeared on campaignlive.co.uk. 

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