Marketing Services: Global M&A and Public Company Performance FY 2021

Julie Langley, James Kesner

We are pleased to share with you the FY 2021 Marketing Services Sector Review, where we analyse global M&A activity and public market performance in the marketing services sector.

The M&A market for Marketing Services remains dynamic with 2021 deal volume up by over 25% on 2020 levels at 756 versus 602 total deals respectively. We have tracked 186 deals in Q4 2021 continuing the positive trends seen through the year.

Click to read Global Marketing Sector Review: FY 2021

Private equity continues to be a key component of the M&A environment through both direct investments and activity through portfolio companies. We see no signs of a slowdown from this cohort and note that half of the top cohort of buyers in 2021 were private equity. It will be interesting to see how confidence continues to build as we see increasing levels of private equity exits following a busy few years.

Once again, we have seen a busy year of acquisitions from both S4 Capital and Accenture who transacted on nine and six deals respectively in 2021 making them the most active acquirors. It is exciting to see renewed M&A focus from the networks as they have shown an uptick in activity for opportunistic and technology enabled targets. 

We have seen high levels of M&A activity over recent years and a good proportion of scaled assets in the market have transacted. Capability is the key driver of M&A appetite with digital transformation, data, ecommerce and technology enabled services likely to play significant roles in shaping the M&A environment ahead alongside performance and influencer marketing.

We are excited by the 2022 M&A outlook with a positive start to the year and appetite in the space from buyers and investors holding strong as the buyer universe expands.