Publicis Groupe has agreed to acquire the data marketing company Epsilon for a total cash consideration of $4.4 billion, making it one of the marketing services industry’s biggest ever deals.
Epsilon is described in an official Publicis Groupe statement as "a unique technology and platforms company with unparalleled data assets built over years". It is the Groupe’s largest purchase to date.
The acquisition is aimed at strengthening Publicis Groupe’s ability to offer data-driven personalised experiences at scale: analysts estimate that the deal could give Publicis access to over 200 million customer data sets and transform its targeted marketing solutions services, particularly in North America.
Epsilon, which generated revenues of $2.2 billion in 2018 (down 4% year-on-year), is owned by Alliance Data Systems Corporation, and as well as acquiring the Epsilon business Publicis has announced that it is now entering into a strategic partnership with Alliance Data’s remaining business.
A Publicis Groupe press release said: "This acquisition will accelerate the implementation of Publicis' strategy to become the preferred transformation partner for its clients."
The deal comes as Publicis Groupe unveils a 1.6% decline in organic net revenue for the first quarter, though reported net revenues were up 1.7%.
Arthur Sadoun, chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe, said the results were "in line with expectations, confirming our take on what we anticipate for the year".
He said that the company’s "game changers" combining data, dynamic creativity and business transformation were up 27% in the quarter and that the retention of clients "also recorded a marked improvement".
However, Sadoun acknowledged that the company was still suffering attrition from FMCG clients "and that has remained high in the quarter. North America net revenue has been particularly affected by this attrition that represented around 300 basis points of impact on the region performance." Sadoun added that he believed the pace of attrition will slow in the second quarter.