This was a banner year for agency review consultants, but not so much for investment bankers. Maybe it was the pandemic, which led to layoffs and contractions, or the fact that holding companies are now so sprawling that they are spending much of their time merging and purging existing units together. Or perhaps the industry is simply reaching critical mass. Whatever the reason, things were slow on the merger front in 2021—unless you were Martin Sorrell, Mark Penn or Ryan Reynolds. Here are three big deals that went down in 2021.
It was a long time coming, but Mark Penn's Stagwell Group finally completed its merger with MDC Partners in July, almost a year after it was proposed. The combination yielded a single holding company with $2.1 billion in revenue comprised of agencies including Code and Theory, 6 Degrees, Anomaly, 72andSunny, Doner and more operating under the Stagwell name.
The transaction was in part dragged out over opposition from MDC shareholder Indaba Capital Management, which blasted the original offer as a "sweetheart deal" while Stagwell, in turn, argued it was fair. After some haggling and a revised offer, the merger was approved by 77.6% support of shares cast at a July 26 special meeting of shareholders.