MDC Partners Rebuts Sale Rumors

Analyst Report Even Names Potential Suitors, but Ad Company Says It's 'Decidedly Not' on Block

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NEW YORK ( -- A Deutsche Bank analyst report that suggests MDC Partners is considering a sale to a larger competitor is prompting chatter in ad circles, but MDC is firmly denying it's on the block.

"Management's willingness to sell is high ... at the right price," states the report, which was issued Feb. 17 by Deutsche Bank analyst Matthew Chesler. "We observe that MDC remains independent despite reportedly being open to selling for some time."

The report claims Japanese holding company Dentsu and French holding company Havas are the two best candidates to swallow up MDC, the Toronto-based ad-agency holding company that owns Crispin Porter & Bogusky and Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal & Partners, among others.

"We believe Dentsu would also be a good fit from the standpoint of MDC employees, as the likelihood of maintaining their entrepreneurial culture with Dentsu is greater than with one of the established holding companies," said Mr. Chesler, referring to the likes of Omnicom Group, WPP and Interpublic Group of Cos. "For Havas, MDC would help to boost its digital exposure and strengthen its platform in the U.S. market."

The latter is a particularly surprising view, because Havas is persistently the subject of merger talks with another holding company, Aegis. The analyst report also comes at a curious time because MDC has been vocal about its return to the mergers-and-acquisitions market -- but in order to buy up smaller independent agencies to add to its roster.

It bought Attention Partners in September 2009 and a data analytics firm called Communifx last month, and "there is certain to be more this year," the report states.

Meanwhile, MDC told Advertising Age that it's not ripe for acquisition by one of its larger competitors.

"We are extremely proud and appreciative of the recent Deutsche Bank research report on MDC Partners written by Matt Chesler, and their positive report and buy recommendation of our company," a spokeswoman for MDC said in an e-mailed statement. "However, to be clear, we are most decidedly not for sale. We believe that we are in our infancy relative to our potential. Management continues to acquire incremental ownership with a long-term commitment to MDC and dedication to value creation for all of our shareholders."

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