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

U.S. deals through the end of March increased 366 percent compared to 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 new M&A report from R3.

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

Out of all the M&As, only 14 percent were done by agency holding companies, showing a rise in interest among other buyers. The report states that consultants CapGemini and Accenture led the way in major investments so far this year, with deals including LiquidHub and Meredith Xcelerated Marketing, respectively.

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 highlights that WeWork invested in Search Agency Conductor, Dentsu Ventures invested in millennial-focused broadcaster Cheddar and L’Oreal put money toward A.R. firm Modiface.

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