Accenture deal gives AKQA U.S. presence

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Consulting giant Accenture's venture capital arm, Accenture Technology Ventures is working with Francisco Partners to invest $71 million in U.K. new media agency AKQA, enabling AKQA to merge with three other new media and advertising companies and begin building a global new media network under the AKQA name. The companies are Citron Haligman Bedecarre, a San Francisco ad agency claiming billings of $300 million, whose clients include Palm; U.S. Web developer Magnet Interactive; and a Singapore-based new media company called The AdInc. A deal involving Citron, Accenture and a new-media company had been expected (AA, Jan. 22).

AKQA's chairman-CEO Ahmed Ajaz, 27, who founded the company in 1994, said he will continue as chairman and take on the new role of chief marketing officer of AKQA. Rick Hadala, a former McKinsey & Co. consultant who has worked at Saatchi & Saatchi-owned Darwin Digital, joins as CEO.

The deal gives AKQA offices in the U.S., Europe and Asia. "The plan is to grow and add capability," Mr. Ahmed said. One of the next steps will be a New York office. In Europe, AKQA already works with multinational marketers including Nike, BMW and Energizer Co. Accenture will work with AKQA as a partner for digital communications and marketing. The deal will be formally announced this week.

Copyright January 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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