In 2010, AKQA was in talks with Japanese agency company Dentsu.
However, Dentsu exited those talks. Dentsu's U.S. branch withdrew
from discussions because of a "huge financial difference" between
the asking price of $550 million to $600 million and what Dentsu
was willing to pay, one person familiar with talks said at the
"This is the third time knocking," said WPP CEO Martin Sorrell
of the agencies' relationship, in an interview with Ad Age . "We'd
tried twice before, they turned us down twice before. Call us third
For AKQA Chairman Tom Bedecarre, the deal makes sense now
because his agency is setting its sights on further international
"It's the right time in our growth stage," Mr. Bedecarre told Ad
Age . While AKQA will keep its brand among the biggest agencies in
the world, the plan is to leverage partnerships with rest of the
company. "We'll be up with the big boys at the WPP table and its
The deal started to come into focus months ago at the Consumer
Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January. Moving into WPP is
somewhat of a homecoming for Mr. Bedecarre, who has spent time at
Ogilvy in New
Mr. Bedecarre and Founder-CEO Ajaz Ahmed will remain
shareholders in AKQA. General Atlantic has divested its stake, with
WPP holding the majority.
Purchase price was not disclosed; however, AKQA's enterprise
value is $540 million and it's believed that the price hovered
around that . WPP said it may shed more light in that regard on its
The acquisition is subject to regulatory approval.
AKQA employs 1,160 people worldwide with offices across the
U.S., Europe and Shanghai. AKQA's expertise is in integrated
digital communications campaigns, social media, mobile, gaming
work, and content creation. Clients include Delta, Diageo, EDF, GAP, Google, Microsoft Xbox,
Nike , Target ,
Unilever and Virgin
AKQA will exist as a standalone brand within WPP, the largest ad
holding company. Mr. Ahmed and Mr. Bedecarre will stay on, with Mr.
Bedecarre also becoming president of WPP Ventures, tasked with
identifying digital investment opportunities.